I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Denver. I grew up in Colorado Springs, at the foot of Pikes Peak, where Katharine Lee Bates wrote the song "America the Beautiful."
My father is a U.S. Air Force veteran and worked for more than 35 years as an art teacher at a local high school. My mother worked as a printer and then became the manager of a small book store in Old Colorado City.
My paternal grandfather, Al Shernick, was a painter and mural designer from New York City. He always claimed that his family descended from Russian nobility, and that his own father, before the Russian Revolution of 1917, held a title equivalent to that of an English Lord or a Duke.
The exact lineage of my grandfather's pedigree remains a mystery -- one I am trying to solve with the help of the WikiTree community. At present it seems his family were claiming to be related in some way to the Counts von Zarnekau, the children of Duke Constantine Petrovich of Oldenburg. True? The jury is still out.
My mother's family tree is a very different matter: Less mystery. My mom was an All-American girl from Kansas. Her family tree includes not only pioneers and heroes of Texas, but also veterans of the American Civil War and the American Revolution.
Using WikiTree to document her family history has been very fruitful indeed. I have benefited from the research of many generous people, and by linking my mother's tree with theirs, I can now trace some of her lines back as far as the Roman emperors.
By using WikiTree's nifty "Relationship Finder Tool," I can also state with fair confidence that I am
When I say "with fair confidence" that is for three reasons:
In other words, people LOVE making up tall tales about their family trees. Therefore, every single link in a family tree has to be documented, and the documentation for ancient family trees must be provided and proved and proved again.
Which brings us to one of my favorite quotes: "Genealogy without sources is Mythology." It may be a great read, like a great work of historical fiction. It may sound "truthy." But if it's not sourced, it's a fiction.
What a genealogist wants are true stories. If a person's biography is well written, and if their genealogy is well researched and well sourced, the results can be every bit as fascinating as any episode of Game of Thrones. The difference is, you now have the right to add to the title a wonderful subtitle: "A True Story."
One of my major goals, then, is to provide my family and friends at WikiTree with a fascinating collection of well-researched well-sourced family history stories. I wish to explore the facts behind each of the family myths, legends and tall tales listed above by gathering and carefully reassembling the bones, presenting DNA evidence and as much valid documentation as humanly possible.
Like amateur story tellers sitting around a camp fire, most genealogists work without expectation of monetary compensation of any kind. The real compensation lies in burnt marshmallows and sharing the story itself -- the satisfaction of carefully reassembling the life of an ancient ancestor, and sharing their story with family.
The fact that there is still some mystery surrounding the tale, and many unanswered questions, actually adds to the attraction. It presents a puzzle to the family -- something to ponder and think about. It also leaves the puzzle open to a new generation.
Truth be told, there is never any way to fully understand the lives of our parents and grandparents. To examine the life of a great-great-great grandparent who lived long ago is an almost impossible challenge. Times have changed. We undestand them only in part.
Yet in the very act of reflecting on the life and deeds of an ancestor, and by trying sincerely to learn from their experience, a bond is formed. Surprisingly, though more than three hundred years may have passed, there are some human experiences that are completely timeless and universal. In regarding the life of an ancient ancestor, we may glimpse in the glass, darkly, a strange and startling reflection of our own life, our own age.
Family history also has a strange way of bringing textbook history down to Earth. It's as if one were offered a passageway back in time. By discovering that an ancestor participated in a famous battle of the Civil War, for example, one may suddenly take a far more active and personal interest in that battle. The people and events of that day suddenly become real at a personal level.
Tracing a family tree can also make one realize, with a start, that many people whom we've always consider "mythical" and "legendary" were actually human, and very real. They were our family -- not so very different from us!
Could we really be the descendants of ancient kings and queens? Genealogists are the people who set out to discover the truth -- to discover the human faces behind all the myths, legends, dusty books, and garbled GEDCOMs.
Of course, there's really no escaping all the crazy software and garbled GEDCOMs. Finding the truth involves tons of digging in old, dusty books, usually in very boring places. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, census records, old passport photos, ships' passenger lists, land records and tax records buried on microfilm reels are the stuff and dross of family history research. Most of the "dirt and gravel" collected during these data mining expeditions are carefully sorted, sifted and completely discarded afterwards. Carefully cleaning and examining the small nuggets of information one does find requires endless patience, and reassembling these small clues into a much larger, bigger and more meaningful picture requires the calm and objective reasoning of a Scotland Yard detective.
Building a family history is not exactly entertainment: It's hard work. An enormous amount of research goes into any good family history! Some might say that family history is not really an art form so much as a science akin to forensic medicine, archaeology or paleontology.
Personally, I've spent more than 20 years of rainy afternoons assembling the fossils that I'm about to present. The result is not an exciting Hollywood movie, not Jurassic Park. But it is my sincere belief that historical research does provide people with a window on history, something almost as marvelous as a Time Machine. When serious historical research is done correctly, it creates a museum that piques the imagination, and rekindles a childish fascination with the past. It enlivens the past with human warmth, color and feeling. It brings the past (and our ancestors) back to life in vivid and dramatic detail.
Imagine the feelings of Heinrich Schliemann when he first presented the re-assembled city of ancient Troy to startled news reporters. Indeed, the satisfaction of genealogy is very much like that of an elderly paleontologist at a natural history museum who watches from the sidelines with a quiet smile while a busload of third graders enters the museum and surrounds his work: The satisfaction lies in the wide eyes of children as they gaze up at the carefully reassembled skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
If a genealogist does his or her work carefully and correctly, there's absolutely no lying or fiction involved at all: It turns out the ancient legends were true. These creatures really did once roam the Earth.
The truth is much stranger than fiction.
What is truly amazing is history itself. History is not make-believe, not a dream. If you aren't amazed by your own family history, you haven't been paying attention!
For the particular details of the lineages on which I am presently working, please see the WikiTree profiles listed below. Undoubtedly, some of these lineages are mistaken. They need correction, and there is no better way to correct an error than to have a thousand sets of eyes checking each detail.
Like an archaeologist working on a rich dig, I have faith that, with thousands of people working on the same dig, the puzzle of how our ancient ancestors lived is going to be solved. A beautiful and amazing picture will begin to take shape. We can even reconstruct their families and their family relationships in amazing detail.
Now the odd thing about working in WikiTree (a vast community project) during the height of an "information age" is this: One stands a surprisingly good chance of proving that some of one's family's wildest and most far-fetched legends are perfectly true.
The ancient foundation myths of Rome, Paris and London, three cities which claim that they were founded by Trojans who fled to Europe after the Trojan War, finds some surprisingly strong support in the archaeological records uncovered by Heinrich Schliemann.
Just because a family legend is incredible and fantastic does not make it untrue. Family legends, after all, are reserved for the strangest things that have ever happened to our families.
To give a more particular example, my grandmother Shaw often told a story about the death of her grandfather, Simon Perry, a railroad brakeman who was crushed between two railroad cars. As a wide-eyed child, I was left to imagine the worst.
Recently, thanks to the advent of searchable newspaper databases, I found a newspaper death notice that completely confirmed the story she had told. But it added some unexpected details: Simon Perry hadn't died on the spot. Rather, he had been "pinched," survived for an entire year, and (believe it or not) continued working for the New York Central line on light duty as a conductor, before a tumor gradually grew in his intestines and his health finally failed.
Which brings me to another point: One also stands a fair chance of discovering family legends that were lost, or never told. Deleting memories is a form of psychological self-defense. The chance that your family hid secret relationships and never told the story of traumatic events in all their gory detail is very high. My grandmother's mother, Violet Perry, who watched her father die slowly, probably kept the story of Simon's death fairly terse.
People also become strangely silent when they are hiding money and family treasures. If you were a Tsarist count who had been reduced to working as a waiter, would you advertise the fact that you had once lived in a palace? No. Such painful secrets are often kept from one's children and grandchildren.
In other words, the chance that your family are related to nobility and have some historically famous people hidden high amongst the branches of your family tree is also surprisingly high. That's not only because some of the more ancient branches of your family tree have been hidden by the mists of time, but also for another reason: mathematics.
Why Every Single One of Us Has Royalty in their Family Tree
Think about it. Everyone has two parents. Each of your two parents had two parents, which means you have four grandparents. Each of your four grandparents had two parents, which means you have eight great-grandparents. The number of your ancestors clearly doubles with each generation back. Your family tree grows and grows and grows exponentially. The mathematical formula is 2 to the power n where n = the number of generations back.
One generation back (your parents) is 2 to the power 1 = 2 parents. Two generations back (your grandparents) is 2 to the power 2 or 4 grandparents. Three generations back (your great grandparents) is 2 to the power 3 or 8 great-grandparents.
We are following a well-known pattern of doubling: 2-4-8-16-32-64-128-256-512, etc.
How many ancestors would one have to find on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org to complete one's family tree to the year 1900? If one generation is 25 years, and we start with the year 2000 as generation No. 1 (two parents born about 1975), then the math tells us we need to fill in 32 blanks to trace all ancestors living in 1900. Or, rather, one needs to find 4 grandparents living in 1950, 16 great-grandparents living in 1925, and 32 great-great grandparents living in 1900.
Remembering every little detail about the lives of 32 people is well beyond the memory capacity of the average American. Within only 100 years, then, the majority of family history stories are forgotten.
How many ancestors did we have living about the year 1800? The math says 512. You will need to find the names (and life stories) of 512 ancestors living about 1800.
How many ancestors did we have living in the year 1700? About 8,192. That's a lot of names. For the year 1600? You had 131,072 ancestors living. For the year 1500? Here's where it gets weird. You had about 2,097,152 ancestors walking around. That's a lot of name tags. And the total world population back in the year 1500 has been estimated at only 450 million.
Do you see where this is going? To trace your tree to the year 1400, you need to find 33,554,432 ancestors out of a world population of 350 million. But to trace your tree to the year 1300, you need to find the names of 536,870,912 out of a world population of about 340 million.
In other words, the number of your ancestors -- ancestors you must have -- exceeds the population of the planet Earth in the year 1300. And because your ancestors double with each generation back, for the year 1200 you need to find, oh, about 8,589,934,592 ancestors -- more than eight billion ancestors at a time when the total population of the planet was estimated at 360 million.
To trace one's pedigree back to the year 1000 requires finding about 40 generations, or the number 2 to the 40th power ancestors. What is 2 to the 40th power? I am not going to tell you, because it made my calculator melt. It would make your brain explode.
What is going on here? You've reached the trunk of your family tree!
The calculated number of ancestors required is correct. It must be because it is following a simple mathematical rule of doubling with each generation, and there can be no errors there: every baby must have a mother and a father.
The conclusion should be fairly clear: There is a certain nexus in time, around the year 1350 A.D. or 27 generations back, when everyone's ancestors begin to equal and then exceed the population of the Earth.
For all practical purposes, you might as well say you are related to everyone who lived on Earth prior to 1350 A.D., and you don't need to buy a DNA kit to prove it. Simple mathematics proves it.
In the year 1200 A.D., there's an extremely good chance you can call all 360 million people living on Earth your relatives -- because the numbers say you had more than 8 billion ancestors in that year. Indeed the further you go back in time, the more and more intensely related you become to every single person living on Earth.
For all people who lived prior to 1000 A.D. (the solid trunk of your family tree), the possibility that you are not related to them approaches zero, and the probability that you are related to them approaches 100 percent.
To the question whether you have some nobility in your tree, then, the clear mathematical answer is yes, absolutely, positively. Based on the mathematics alone, there's no doubt you've got nobility somewhere in your family tree. Because your tree is the tree of the human race.
The problem is, you don't know the exact lineage, and people don't consider a family history puzzle solved or a lineage proven until you can present every single link in the lineage. They want to see all the names between you and that ancient king.
Most people don't have time to bother with all the details. That's where WikiTree comes in. A jigsaw puzzle, solved as a community effort, can create amazing breakthroughs in terms of finding the actual lineage. Once all the pieces of the puzzle have been assembled, lineages can be easily traced. WikiTree, as a relational database, can trace a zig-zag path that might never have occured to you, and trace the zig-zag path with incredible speed.
As you become more and more accustomed to using WikiTree's Relationship Finder to trace the hidden, zig-zag paths in the world tree, you will begin to see the wisdom of an ancient analogy, an analogy between history and a richly woven tapestry. According to this analogy, we're all the offspring of a huge matrix, a "Tapestry of Time" that interweaves the lives of many, many, many people.
The mathematics of genetics and genealogy confirm this idea: We are part of a Matrix. This ancient tapestry, woven by the Fates, is an integrated whole. The life of the lowest pauper is indeed strangely interwoven with that of the highest prince, for they are both part of the same social fabric and the same family tree. Because your ancient ancestors were part of the social fabric of their century, their lives are indeed interwoven with those of the legendary kings, emperors and famous people who made world history before the year 1000.
Going back to the analogy of a tree: All princes, princesses and paupers share the same tree trunk. In ancient Christian societies this analogy was paired with the concept of Adam and Eve, the first man and first woman from whom all humans descend. The Bible was saying, in a quaint way, what WikiTree proves in more objective terms: We share the same ancestors.
Thus genealogy makes a joke out of racism, separatism and nationalism. Racism and snobbery about one's "pure" pedigree are a joke! Show me a man who thinks he is "pure" anything, and I'll show you a man who has failed to trace his family tree more than a few generations back. He has not yet traced his branch all the way back to the common trunk and roots of the world tree -- the roots that are shared by everyone in the tree.
What may seem to be a completely separate group of people is in fact a single branch of an integrated and highly inter-dependent whole: A single family. A single organism.
A world tree.
We really are one big human family, a world family, sharing the very same tree-trunk pedigree.
Everyone who lived before the year 1000 A.D. really is your relative, which means all the family legends about descent from kings are probably true. Mathematically speaking, we are all equally likely to have ancient kings, emperors, and Czars in the family tree. We must have! But the documentation has gone missing.
The art of genealogy, it would seem, is the gentle art of touting one's relationship to famous or noble relatives whilst quietly sweeping the knuckle-dragging cavemen, alcoholics, gibbering idiots, axe murderers, prostitutes, drug addicts, army deserters and assorted child molesters under the rug. Only occasionally does one admit one's relationship to the local cab drivers, dog catchers, postmen, school teachers, green grocers and garbage collectors.
Problem is: One cannot uncover the one without uncovering the other. Trying to shake the angels out of the magic bottle lets the demons out too. Whilst trying to prove oneself a "pure-breed" one is much more apt to prove the very opposite.
The decision to climb only those branches of the tree that appear to lead to "nobility" will most likely lead to the discovery that the nobility weren't a very noble, kind or generous people at all. One will likely find a large number of bastards born on the wrong side of the royal sheets, not to mention any number of relatives of the wrong political stripe and a large number of peasant cousins of the "wrong religion" who were quite literally ditched.
My grandfather Al's family history is a perfect case in point: While pursuing eastern European records to prove that the Shernick (Czernichow) family are an ancient family related to the czars of Russia, I discovered a branch who are more Jewish than Groucho Marx, and amongst their relatives I discovered the Mizocz massacre.
On 14 October 1942, about 1,700 Jews, including 26 members of the Shernick family, were executed by Ukrainian fascists in a ravine outside the small town of Mizocz, 18 miles east of Dubno. Their lives and their history were quite literally ditched, and buried in a mass grave.
So does one use WikiTree and internet genealogy only to puff up one's own ego? Obviously not. Human history is full of all sorts of crime, tragedy and injustice. A grave yard is not a place for making merry. It is a stark reminder that we are all mortal, a stark reminder that humans are sometimes genuinely evil, and a place to honor fallen ancestors, with profound sadness for the suffering they endured.
It is important to leave the buried buried, out of respect. Yet each nation and family also has a tradition or national ritual of "remembrance day." We vow never to forget. At least once a year, if not once a week, one sets aside time to remember one's ancestors and lost loved ones.
Remembrance -- if you have a heart and love people -- requires that you honor their lives by trying to discover the truth. You don't just allow people -- and the truth -- to be erased. You tell their story and repeat their story, so their life and self-sacrifice will not be forgotten.
WikiTree is a powerful tool for recovery and remembrance. It helps recover one's sense of place in history and one's place in the world tree. It helps one recover, renew and rebuild family legends, and to retell these legends, so that loved ones will not be erased and forgotten.
As with all human families, there are horrible memories. But there are wonderful memories too. Recovering, restoring and preserving the wonderful memories is also important: It gives one hope.
Why let the demons win? Why let some fascist who thinks he or she has a perfect and flawless pedigree bury your family in a ravine? Time to rub their nose in the math and show them that they themselves aren't perfect: The math says they are mutts, just like the rest of us. Their family tree proves it.
Time to show them that you yourself are not "trash" or someone to be thrown away like garbage. You are quite literally their cousin, and you have just as many saints, emperors, czars, generals, princes and nobles in your own family as they do. Because it's the same family. The family tree proves it.
If you doubt that some working stiff from Colorado can trace his tree to the Romanovs and all the way back to Renaissance royalty, then you don't know the power of internet research and WikiTree!
Using the internet to match my great-uncle Jakob's uniform to that of an unterofficer in a Rifle Brigade of the Tsar's Life Guard is a case in point. The relatively new capability of "searching on image" yielded that match. The fact that he is wearing the uniform of a member of the Tsar's Life Guard suggests I do have some relationship to the Russian imperial family, even if the details are not yet clear.
DNA-matching, combined with WikiTree's super-big and super-fast relational database can also break down brick walls. Do you suspect you are a Romanov, or a secret cousin to Prince William, or his wife, Kate Middleton? Because her dad's brother worked at the same Fish 'n Chips shop where your mom worked in high school?
A simple DNA swab kit may prove your guess.
It's one thing to realize, theoretically, that you are probably related to kings, because the math says you are. It's another thing to watch the WikiTree "Relationship Finder" draw a detailed path directly to the doorstep of an ancient king, or the front porch of a United States President, or the Find-A-Grave memorial of a 1940s movie star.
Personally, I never get tired of watching the ghostly details emerge before my eyes, like a photograph or hologram emerging from the darkness. A Magic 8 Ball is nothing compared to WikiTree!
Life really is a miracle called history. Tracing one's family makes one realize we're all a part of that history mystery -- what history professor Eleanor Zelliot once called "the vast interconnectedness of everything to everything." As with holograms, even the smallest part somehow contains the memory of the whole.
Why not discover your own relationships to world history? Why not join the whole world family? Why not let the kids at WikiTree help you build a tree house and get a better view of your own place in the world?
WikiTree is an amazing resource available to everyone, it pairs very nicely with Ancestry.com, and it allows one to solve many difficult puzzles with the help of thousands of family history volunteers around the globe.
I highly recommend WikiTree puzzle-solving as a source of genuine inspiration and enlightenment for writers, both those who are tomb-raiders digging for treasures in the graveyard of their family's storied past (they will get a free lesson in respecting the dead) and also for the more serious writers, seeking the hidden meaning behind the mysteries of death, life and love on a deeper level.
WikiTree provides thousands of amazing biographies and stories taken from the Tree of life itself. It offers the very best way possible to collaborate on one's family tree with distant cousins. More importantly, it may introduce one to one's cousins (the whole human race) for the very first time.
For some fun examples of hidden relationships one may discover using the WikiTree toolkit, please see the list of "my cousins" below. Admittedly its a kind of goofy pass-time, proving that you are Abraham Lincoln's "14th cousin four times removed," or calling Amelia Earhart your "9th cousin three times removed."
But it also carries a serious message: Abe and Amelia brushed their teeth each morning the same way you do. They were made of the same flesh and blood you are. If they found the courage and the determination to pick themselves up off the ground, dust themselves off, and do something extraordinary with their lives, then so can you!
It's a message of hope.
That's the joy of WikiTree -- an amazingly powerful learning tool that's genuinely fun for the whole family.
If you have never heard of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, you are in for a treat. It's an international society for "re-enactment" of just about every interesting period in pre-17th century history, and for anyone fascinated by Medieval chivalry or ancient Roman combat. the SCA's website is the best place to begin learning about all the details of ancient life.
Those family historians obsessed with bringing an ancient society back to life might also want to read the Wikipedia article on DFAs - family trees that focus on Descent From Antiquity.
Popular DFAs or Descents from Antiquity include not only Adam and Eve Trees (see Genealogies in the Bible) but also family trees for the Ming Dynasty, the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Gods of Greek Mythology, the legendary Kings of Troy, the family of Alexander the Great, the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, the dynasty of Julius Caesar, the High Kings of Ireland, the forgotten Kings of Scotland, or the many kings named in Viking legends and lore.
Because I took more than five years of Latin in school, I've always been fascinated by the ancient emperors of Rome, especially those who invaded Germany, France and Britain.
Believe it or not, according to the ancient (mythical?) King lists of Britain, written down by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Emperor Claudius not only occupied Britain but also married one of his daughters to a legendary British king, meaning that anyone of noble English heritage could potentially use WikiTree to trace his or her tree back to the Roman Emperors.
To illustrate this idea, I've decided to add here my own attempt at a DFA, a proof of my family's descent from the family of Julius Caesar.
Here it is then: The long bomb. This is my hypothetical descent from the family of the ancient Emperors of Rome. Is it credible? Believe me, this DFA does not help me get better seating at the local restaurants in Denver. When there's a wait, there's a wait!
Empress Livia Drusilla Augusta, aka Julia Augusta (58 B.C. - 29 A.D.), became the wife of Caesar Augustus (63 B.C. - 14 A.D.), the first emperor of Rome. To wed her, Caesar Augustus pushed aside her first husband, Tiberius Claudius Nero, who was the father of
Drusus the Elder (38 B.C. - 9 B.C.), who was the father of
Claudius, Emperor of Rome (10 B.C. to 54 A.D.), who (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, Book 4, Section 14) had a daughter named
King Marius (Meurig) of Siluria (40 A.D. - 125 A.D.), who lived at York, England and fathered
King Coel I of Colchester (100 A.D. - 170 A.D.), who fathered
Strada verch Cadvan, aka "Strada the Fair" (220 - 300 A.D.) who married King Coel II of Colchester (Camulod), aka "Coilus the Magnificent" (218 - 262 A.D.) They allegedly had a daughter named Helena who became St. Helena of Constantinople. Again, this is according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, who seems to have been enjoying a second round of very strong ale. According to his History of the Kings of Britain
St. Helena of Constantinople, aka Empress Julia Flavia Helena Augusta (246 - 330 A.D.), married Emperor Constantius I Chlorus (250 - 306 A.D.) and traveled to the Holy Land, where she discovered the True Cross. This discovery did not greatly impress her son,
St. Constantine the Great (272 - 337), aka Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, an army officer who fought many battles in order to become Emperor of Rome. Constantine was crowned emperor at Eboracum (modern-day York, England) ca. 306 A.D. Constantine was definitely a Pagan when it came to his views on religion, and rather fond of throwing Christians to the lions. But thanks to constant hen-pecking by his mother, St. Helena. the emperor Constantine converted Rome to the Christian religion and finally agreed to be baptized himself on his deathbed.
Emperor Constantius II (317 - 361), aka Flavius Julius Constantius Augustus, had a daughter who became
Empress Flavia Maxima Constantia, aka Constantia, (361 - 383). She married Flavius Gratianus (Gratian), Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. Their daughter
Helen, aka Elen ferch Lwyddog (340 - 387) married Flavius Magnus Maximus Augustus, aka Macsen Wledig or Magnus Maximus (335 - 388 A.D.), who usurped the throne from Gratian and became Roman Emperor of the western empire in Britain and Gaul (France) from 383 to 388. As noted by Jack Whyte in his Camulod Chronicles, it was the death of Magnus Maximus that marked the end of Roman presence in Britain and the beginning of the dark ages that led to the coming of King Arthur.
Gratiana ferch Macsen (367 - ?), daughter of Magnus Maximus, married Tudwall of Galloway. They had a son,
Anlach MacCormac, Prince of Dyfed (403 - 450), who married Marchell, daughter of Tewdrig. Anlach and Marchell had a son:
St. Brychan of Breichniog (419 - 490), who was a Welsh sort of saint and therefore married and had children. His daughter
Lluan Ingenach of Manau, Wales (480 - ?), married Gabran Mac Domnairt, King of Dalriada. Their son
Aedan Mac Gabrain, King of Dalriada (532 - 608), became husband of Ygerna del Acqs ("Ygraine"), a princess of Aquitaine. Aedan became the father of Arthur, aka "King Arthur" of Scotland, who undoubtedly wore a kilt and played the bagpipes. Arthur died in battle (according to several Hollywood movies), but the movies neglect to mention he had a brother named Ed, or more precisely:
Eochaidh I Buide "Yellow Hair" (565 - 629), King of Dalriada. Old Yellow Hair had a cute kid, a freckle-faced boy named
Eochaid III (? - 733), King of Dalriada, who begot
Aedh Find (720 - 778), King of Dalriada, who begot
Eochaid IV (776 - ?), King of Dalriada, who begot
Alpin (MacEchDach), King of Dalriada (778 - 834), who had nothing to do on Saturday nights in Dalriada and therefore begot
Malcolm II, King of Scots (954 - 1034) who begot
Duncan I, King of Scots (1007 - 1040) who begot
David I, King of Scots (1085 - 1153) who begot
Henry Dunkeld (1114 - 1152), 3rd Earl of Northumberland, who begot
Bethoc (Angus) Stewart (1174 - ?) who begot
Alexander Stewart (1214 - 1283), 4th High Steward of Scotland, who begot
James Stewart (1243 - 1309), 5th High Steward of Scotland, who begot
Sir Walter Stewart (1292 - 1327), 6th High Steward of Scotland (Ayrshire), who married Marjorie Bruce and begot
King Robert II Stewart (1316 - 1390) who had four wives and 22 children, including
John Stewart (1337 - 1406), who, upon his accession to the throne, became Robert III, King of Scots, and by his wife Annabella Drummond had
King James I Stewart (1394 - 1437) of Scotland, who begot
King James II Stewart (1430 - 1460) of Scotland, who begot
James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran (1475 - 1529). who looked like a nerd carrying his Hamilton-Tartan (plaid) lunchbox, yet somehow begot
Margaret (Hamilton) Stewart (1505 - 1544) of Scotland, who begot
Andrew Stewart (1521 - 1602) , 2nd Lord Stewart of Ochiltree, who begot
Andrew Stewart (bef 1554 - 1578), Master of Ochiltree, who begot
Andrew Stewart (1560 - 1629), who upped sticks and moved to County Tyrone, Ireland, where he became "1st Baron Castle Stewart," painted the living room himself, and begot
Col. Robert Stewart (1629 - 1662), of County Tyrone, Ireland, who begot
Capt. Robert Stewart (1640 - 1686), 6th Baron Castle Stuart, of County Tyrone, Ireland, who begot
Andrew Stewart (1672 - 1715), 7th Baron Castle Stuart, County Tyrone, Ireland, who normally liked to golf on weekends, but since it was raining begot
Rebecca (Stuart) McClung (1710 - 1781), mere mortal, who moved to Virginia, married a guy named John McClung, and spawned a long and glorious line of mere mortals, namely:
Elizabeth (McClung) Perry (1757 - 1798), Virginia
Mary Ann (Perry) Hinchman (1775 - 1832), Virginia
Elizabeth (Hinchman) Smith (1799 - 1854), Virginia
Lt. Theodore G. Smith (1825 - 1879), West Virginia
Isaac A.B. Smith (1849 - 1914), Kansas
Jaculene Gabriel, Kansas, who begot (woo hoo!) yours truly,
Are you a Royal Bastard? Or a descendant of a royal bastard? I know I am! And there is a lineage society for people like us: It's called
The Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain, or royalbastards.org
I've also been blessed to descend from some saints and some allegedly legitimate children of kings and queens. If you share this odd fate (don't we all?), here are some equally interesting lineage societies one may join:
The Sovereign Colonial Society American of Royal Descent, known as SARD
The Plantagenet Society (established in 1902 for descendants of the House of Anjou), and
Those members of my family with money to burn (bastards!) could certainly join each of these societies.
Basic Claim: My maternal grandmother Bernice (Libel) Gabriel was a descendant of
These lines of descent may be traced clearly through her Jesse Hall family line and also through her Smith-Sims and Smith-Rucker lines. Her children and grandchildren may therefore claim descent from the Kings and Queens of France several times over.
The Hall family line of descent, taken back as far as John Hall (1605 - 1670) of Coventry, Warwickshire, England, may be viewed simply by clicking on the "Ancestors" button above and finding the Hall family within my pedigree. But an even deeper and more extensive pedigree (beautifully illustrated) may be viewed on Wanda Ware DeGidio's Hall Family History website. See specifically the tab marked "Hall DNA and Lineage to Kings."
DeGidio very carefully traces her Hall family of Rhode Island and Floyd County, Virginia, back to the Merovingian Kings and the Sicambrian Kings of France, the ancestors of Charlemagne. My family shares the same lineage through our ancestor Jesse Hall (1760 - 1848) of Rhode Island, who fought in the American Revolution and later settled in Virginia.
Why is this line of descent so important? Why is Charlemagne such a big deal?
Because Charles the Great claims direct descent from the Merovingian Kings, who claim descent from the House of David and the alleged descendants of the Hasmonean Dynasty, known as Maccabees. This is the fount of honor shared by two royal families: both the French royal family and the Holy Roman Emperors. This is the basis for the French royal family's claim of descent from the House of David, and their "divine" right to rule France on grounds of holy blood. It's their grail lineage, and the reason why they wear the fleur de lis, the Flower of Mary.
Specifically, Charlemagne's mother, Bertrada Laon, Queen of Franks claimed descent from Theodoric III (652-691), the Merovingian King of Franks at Neustria. For Theodoric III's family tree all the way back to King Merovech, founder of the Merovingians (the "sons of Merovech"), see the Wikipedia article Merovingian Dynasty.
The Lineage looks like this:
Amongst genealogists seeking an illustrious bloodline, then, it is very important to trace one's tree back to Charlemagne, who is seen as the fount of honor for all French nobility. Entire libraries of books have been devoted to the noble genealogies leading back to Charlemagne.
Some of them are actually true.
As mentioned above, anyone who thinks they can provide solid documentation showing direct descent from the Merovingian Dynasty may be interested in joining
a lineage society devoted to study of this bloodline. The membership fee is steep ($750) and they keep their admission standards very high. When examining pedigrees, they consider lineages that have been previously vetted to be acceptable, so long as you belong to one of the following "acceptable" lineage societies:
The Order of the Crown of Charlemagne "was organized in the United States on January 1, 1939 and incorporated in the District of Columbia on October 10, 1939. It is an independent patriotic and lineal society named in honor of the Emperor Charles the Great (742-814) and also named after an ancient noble and chivalric order in Europe which according to tradition was instituted by the Emperor in 802 to distinguish and honor his most valiant warriors who fought in the war against the heathen Saxons. Descendants of the Emperor have Maintained the order without great interruption through the centuries."
"The Order meets once a year in Washington, DC at a black tie dinner event the second Thursday of April."
My family can claim a direct descent from Charlemagne (Carolingian-77) through my maternal grandmother Bernice Gabriel and also through my paternal grandmother, Mildred Bell Shaw, as outlined below.
My claim is this: I am a 39th Great-Grandson of Charlemagne in a direct line of descent, one that leads directly to my paternal grandmother, Mildred Bell Shaw.
The WikiTree ID for Charlemagne is Carolingian-77
Because WikiTree's relationship finder only reaches back 30 generations, however, the proof is broken into two parts. To prove this claim, I am claiming:
PART I : That Queen Isabelle of Hainaut was the 13th-great granddaughter of Charlemagne, in a direct line of descent.
PART II : That I am the 26th great-grandson of Queen Isabelle of Hainaut, in a direct line of descent to Mark Shernick.
Add the two parts together and that makes me a 39th-great grandson of Charlemagne.
DIRECT DESCENT PART I:
Isabelle of Hainaut is the 13th great daughter of Charlemagne, King of Franks.
Karolus Magnus ("Charlemagne") (748 - 814), founder of the Carolingian dynasty, is the 13th great grandfather of Isabelle of Hainaut as follows:
This makes Karolus Magnus ("Charlemagne") the 13th great grandfather of Isabelle, in a direct line of descent.
DIRECT DESCENT PART II:
I am the 26th great-grandson of the French Queen Isabelle de Hainaut (Hainaut-19), the wife of King Philipp II (1165 - 1223) of France, through her son, King Louis VIII (Capet) of France and his son, King Robert I (Capet) of France.
WikiTree's relationship finder shows that I have 13 matches with descendants of Queen Isabelle over the past 30 generations.
The lineage (below) is the most direct descent. It's so long, however, that it is very definitely sketchy in places. This lineage will require a great deal of proving!
Isabelle is the 26th-great grandmother of Mark:
This makes Isabelle the 26th-great grandmother of Mark Shernick
Put the two lines together, and that makes Mark a 26+13 = 39th Great Grandson of Charlemagne in a direct line of descent.
I am also a descendant of Charlemagne through my maternal grandmother, Bernice Gabriel, as follows:
This is a direct, strong and documented descent from Charlemagne. More importantly, Queen Isabelle (of Hainaut) Capet is also a direct descendant of Hugh Capet (941 - 988), head of the Capetian dynasty, who was himself an alleged descendant of Charlemagne.
Because Queen Isabelle of Hainaut (above) is also a descendant of King Hugh Capet (the founder of the Capetian Dynasty of French Kings), my grandmother Bernice may claim direct descent from Hugh Capet through the following lineage:
Thus my grandmother Bernice is a direct descendant of Hugh Capet, founder of the Capetian dynasty, through King Edward III.
Note well: King Louis VIII "The Lion" Capet of France (1187 - 1226) was the son of Queen Isabelle (Hainaut) Capet of France (1170 - 1190), whose descent from Charlemagne (748 - 814) has been shown above.
Queen Isabelle's Pedigree thus conjoined the Capetian and Carolingian dynasties. Her descendants are descendants of both dynasties.
Queen Isabelle's descendant, King Edward III is also a direct descendant of Charlemagne, via Queen Isabella Capet's ancestor, King Louis VIII Capet, the "Lion King."
HUGH CAPET'S POWERFUL RELATIVES
Wikipedia sums the highlights of Hugh's Pedigree as follows:
"Hugh Capet was born into a well-connected and powerful family with many ties to the royal houses of France and Germany."
Through his mother (Hedwige of Saxony), Hugh was the great grandson of
Hugh Capet's mother Hedwige of Saxony was the
Hugh Capet's "paternal family, the Robertians, were powerful landowners in the Île-de-France. His grandfather had been King Robert I of France. King Odo Eudes Robertian of Neustria was his granduncle and King Rudolph was his uncle by affinity.
"Hugh's paternal grandmother [Beatrix] was a descendant of Charlemagne," says Wikipedia. But her lineage is not entirely clear.
I am so ashamed! Yes, this lineage may allow me to join
But why did it have to be St. Olaf?
As a graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, I must say that one of the most extremely embarrassing things that I have ever discovered in my family tree is the fact that I am a direct lineal descendant of St. Olaf (aka King Olaf Haraldsson II), the patron saint of Norway and the namesake of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, Carleton's cross-town rival.
Don't get me wrong: St. Olaf was a great guy. Who wouldn't want a saint with a battle cry like "Framm! Framm! Krissmen! Krossmen! Kongsmen!" bashing around in one's family tree?
But Northfield is a small town, hosting two liberal art colleges, and Carleton has always managed to remain intensely jealous of St. Olaf, despite the fact that Carleton likes to call itself the "Harvard of the Midwest."
St. Olaf is an Evangelical Lutheran school, and their cheerful, Christian students tend to be wholesome blonde Norskes, small-town Minnesotans named Jorgensen or Johnson. They have a beautiful, neatly trimmed campus with handsome limestone dorms that somehow make Carleton's dorms look shabby. They have an award-winning choir that releases CDs of amazing classical music every Christmas. Their football team constantly -- and almost effortlessly -- beats Carleton by a wide margin on the football field. Every. Single. Time.
Yet Oles are friendly, courteous, cheerful and seemingly completely oblivious to the fact that Carls are their superiors in every way.
It drives us bats. They were -- and are -- that self-confident. So nice you could strangle them.
As an English major at Carleton, I used to sit in Laird Hall sneering at St. Olaf and chuckling with tremendous glee at Chapter 6 of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby in which Jay Gatsby attends St. Olaf for only about two weeks before deciding their straight-laced Lutheran school is so intolerably stuffy and dull that he simply has to drop out.
Imagine, then, my horror when WikiTree's magical relationship finder tool, after spinning its wheels, unspooled before me the following lineage:
This makes Friedrich Hohenstaufen the 28th-great grandfather of Mark.
We pause here to note that Friedrich I (Hohenstaufen), the Holy Roman Emperor better known as Frederick Barbarossa (1122 - 1190), is famous for sacking Rome and supporting an Anti-Pope. As the leader of the First Reich, he was very much admired by Adolf Hitler, who named his WWII campaign against Russia "Operation Barbarossa."
You can imagine how popular this lineage will make me with the Russian Jewish and Ukrainian Catholic sides of my family, not to mention the local archbishop of the Catholic Church. Thanks WikiTree!
But I digress. Here was the final piece, which landed with a dull thud: This lineage also makes King Olav II (St. Olaf) the 33rd-great grandfather of Mark Shernick.
In otherwords, I am a direct lineal descendant of St. Olaf.
Zounds! Had the Carleton admissions committee known of this lineage, I might easily have been rejected! and sent down to a lower-tier school like . . . . well, like St. Olaf.
Come to think of it, would that have been so bad?
Seems to me I spent 10 years and a lot of money paying back an awfully expensive college that put a serious dent in my bank account.
Hm. Maybe the Carleton Admissions committee actually did know about my descent from St. Olaf.
Awfully clever, those Carls.
The Order of the Norman Conquest, formed in 2013, was incorporated in 2014 as "a society to preserve the historical accomplishments of the Norman Invasion of Anglo-Saxon England and the genealogical lineages of those individuals who participated in these events and whose familial origins played significant roles in Europe in the centuries to follow."
In other words, if you're a Frenchie who still feels like invading England, The Order of the Norman Conquest is the Order for you! All you have to do is show clear descent from William the Conqueror or one of his companions, and you may get an invite.
Membership is by invitation only. This may frustrate many aspiring members of the Order, but the fact that you really, really love Petula Clark's French albums from the 1960s just isn't enough. They reserve the right to tap the brakes if it looks like you have committed a string of sophisticated jewel thefts on the Riviera or you have yet to explain a few hundred-year gaps in your lineage, okay? It is a lineage society, after all.
For those family historians who simply Heart the Norman Conquest and love to study this colorful period of history, there is a pleasant alternative: In return for a $100 annual membership fee one may join The Augustan Society -- an "International Genealogical, Heraldic, Chivalric and Historical Society" that was clearly designed to accommodate anyone with a genuine yearn for the Norman Conquest, its history and the study of chivalric tradition in general.
How do we know the Augustan Society is legit? Because they work out of a P.O. Box in Orlando, Florida, that's how. It's the heritage societies that work out of P.O. Boxes in Oklahoma that make me worry. I mean: Seriously? Would descendants of the Dukes of Normandy retire to Oklahoma? Think about it!
Personally, I am hoping some day to receive an engraved invitation from the Order of the Norman Conquest, because I earnestly believe that William the Conqueror was my 28th-great grandfather.
I believe my family descends from William the Conqueror through both my paternal grandmother (Mildred Bell Shaw) and my maternal grandmother (Bernice Libel) because both of my grandmothers descend from William's son, King Henry I of England, who had more than 20 children.
Mildred descended from King Henry's daughter, Matilda (Maud) of Normandie, who married to Henry V of Germany, the Holy Roman Emperor, on 7 January 1114. Maud married secondly to Geoffrey Plantagenet, the Comte d'Anjou, on 22 May 1128. Mildred descends from their son, King Henry II Plantagenet of England, through his son Sir William Longespee (1176-1226), Earl of Salisbury, one of 16 illustrious counselors to King John who is listed in the pre-amble to the Magna Carta.
Bernice descended from King Henry I's illegitimate son, Robert FitzRoy de Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester, who was a half-brother to Matilda, Holy Roman Empress. For more, see the Wikipedia article Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester here.
My descent from William I The Conqueror (1027 - 1087) WikiID Normandie-32 through my grandmother Shaw is as follows:
This makes William I the Conqueror the 28th-great grandfather of Mark.
My grandmother Bernice (Libel) Gabriel descends directly from William the Conqueror as follows:
William I the Conqueror is the 26th-great grandfather of Bernie
This makes William I the Conqueror the 26th great grandfather of Bernice Libel, the 27th great grandfather of Bernice's children, and the 28th great grandfather of Bernice's grandchildren.
Because King Edward III was a direct descendant of the French Dukes of Anjou (the Angevin Dynasty), one may also say that my grandmother Bernice is a direct descendant of the House of Anjou, through the following lineage:
As we've seen above, King Edward III of England was a descendant (via King Louis VIII of France) from Queen Isabelle (Hainaut) Capet. Through her father, Isabelle descends from Charlemagne. But through her mother, Isabelle also descend from the Crusader Kings of Jerusalem.
In other words, the following lineage may qualify the members of my family to join the Military Order of the Crusades, a very respectable lineage society indeed:
Queen Isabelle (Hainaut) Capet of France (1170 - 1190) was the daughter of:
Sybilla of Anjou was:
Sybilla was also the descendant of
The Baronial Order of Magna Charta ("BOMC") is a scholarly, charitable, and lineage society founded in 1898. Membership in the BOMC may be extended to men and women of good moral character who can establish through genealogical proofs (i.e., primary or acceptable secondary sources) their descent from one of the twenty five Magna Charta Surety Barons.
Using WikiTree's nifty Relationship Finder Quick Links Page, it's a cinch to show one's relationship to the Magna Carta Surety Barons, with just a few clicks.
My family is related to (and in some cases directly descends from) the following 15 Magna Carta Surety Barons:
The Plantagenet Society, established in 1902 and headquartered at Philadelphia, PA, offers membership to those who can show descent from a Plantagenet King. They include in this lineage the Dukes of York and Dukes of Lancaster (the leaders of the War of the Roses), who were used as the historical basis for the popular TV series Game of Thrones.
Not certain whether you are a descendant of Edward III? You can load his Wiki ID Plantagenet-70 into the WikiTree Relationship Finder. Or you can turn to free online books, notably a series of books published from 1903 to 1911 titled The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: Being A Complete Table of All the Descendants Now Living of Edward III, King of England" (London: Melville &Co., 1911)
They are available for free download at Archive.org here:
Ruvigny and Raineval, Melville Amadeus. The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal (London: T.C. and E.C. Jack, 1905). The Clarence Volume. See especially the very useful family trees, Tables I to LXXX on pp. 1 - 69.
Ruvigny and Raineval, Melville Amadeus. The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal (London: Melville & Co., 1911). The Mortimer-Percy Volume.
These books have been very useful while trying to prove my grandmother Bernie's Smith-Sims line of direct descent from King Edward III of England. It requires careful validation because it follows a very swervy-curvy path on WikiTree as follows:
Here's my pitch to prove my street cred as a royal bastard. Is it good enough to join
The Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain, or royalbastards.org? You be the judge!
WikiTree's relationship finder tool indicates that I am a direct descendant of Mary Boleyn (1501 - 1543): I'm her 15th-great grandson through her son Sir Henry Carey, and I share more than 315 relatives in common with Mary Boleyn over the past 30 generations.
My direct descent from the House of Tudor depends on whether you agree with some recent claims that Mary Boleyn (the sister of Queen Anne Boleyn Tudor) had a four-year affair with King Henry VIII (Tudor) between 1521 and 1525.
"That King Henry VIII had an affair with Mary (Boleyn) Carey is indisputable fact," says genealogist Anthony Hoskins in his 2007 article Mary Boleyn's Carey Children -- Offspring of King Henry VIII? "Circumstantial evidence indicates a high probability that Henry VIII fathered two children by Mary Boleyn, meaning that he has many descendants in both England and America."
My family appears to be a textbook case, one that proves Mr. Hoskins' assertion that there are many descendants of King Henry VIII in America. Here is my exact line of descent from Mary Boleyn:
Mary is the 15th great grandmother of Mark
This makes Mary the 15th-great grandmother of Mark.
Because Henry Carey, KG, is a registered Knight of the Garter, this lineage is perhaps sufficient documentation to gain me membership in the
But does it make me a royal bastard?
If Mary Boleyn's son Henry was in fact the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII (Tudor), this makes Mark the 15th-great grandson of King Henry VIII, and very definitely a royal bastard.
It is interesting to note that both Prince William Windsor and his wife, Kate (Middleton) Windsor, the Duchess of Cambridge, also claim descent from Mary Boleyn, through her daughter Catherine (Carey) Knollys. They are my twelfth cousins one time removed.
See my blog post Blood of the Boleyns (here) for illustrations and more details.
Through Mary Boleyn I may also claim to be a distant cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and their mother, the Queen Mum. Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret are 12th-great granddaughters of Mary Boleyn.
Those who wish to learn more about all things Tudor may want to join The Tudor Society. Full membership currently runs about $220 per year.
Hm. A bit pricey. How do we know this is a legitimate lineage society? Because they give no P.O. Box at all, their website is full of spam and they are absolutely mad about word puzzles. It doesn't get much more British than that!
Among royal lineage societies, the Stewart Society at Stewart.org is one of the most relaxed, easy-going and fun. If your last name is Stewart, you're in!
For those who do not bear the famous last name, this society has an interesting DNA challenge: Can you prove that you descend from King Robert Stewart III? See the Bannockburn Genetic Genealogy Project at the bottom of their page.
If you remember the lineage I provided (above) when tracing my family all the way back to the Roman Emperors, you may recall a very long line of Stewarts, one which includes King Robert III.
All Stewarts descending from the Stewarts of the 14th Century can prove direct lineal descent from St. Margaret of Scotland (1045 - 1093) -- and thus they may qualify to join the National Guild of St. Margaret of Scotland, a very respectable lineage society.
Unfortunately, admission is by invitation only.
Obviously, if you are a Stewart, there may be a well-founded concern that you have a tendency to behead your own relatives. Also, like the Stewart Society at Stewart.org, they want to see how much you can drink, and how far you can throw a hammer.
St. Margaret is the fifth great grandmother of Robert I
This makes Margaret the fifth great grandmother of Robert I "The Bruce."
My granny Shaw is, amazingly, a direct descendant of King Robert I, aka "Robert The Bruce" in a direct line of descent. She is his 18th-great granddaughter. That means
Robert I is the 20th great grandfather of Mark
This makes Robert I the 20th great grandfather of Mark.
As far as the Scottish are concerned, that's a great pedigree! While I may regret having no direct descent from Mary Queen of Scots or King James I, Robert the Bruce and his descendants, the knights of Lorne, will certainly do.
With regard to direct descent from the Stewarts, granny Mildred is a 16th-great granddaughter of King Robert II Stewart, in a direct line of descent. But the line of descent is through her grandmother Stoddard, not the Perrys or the Shaws!
King Robert II Stewart (1316 - 1390) is the 16th great grandfather of Mildred
This makes King Robert II the 16th great grandfather of Mildred.
The fact that she descends through his son, Robert Stewart, The 1st Duke of Albany, is highly significant. The Duke of Albany was one of the three scheming, cutthroat brothers of King Robert III who fought for possession of the Scottish throne. For a time the Duke of Albany won: He served as Regent, after the death of King Robert III in 1406, and he was succeeded by his son, Murdoc.
The dramatic story of this blood feud is neatly re-told by BBC Scotland's 2018 video Rise of the Clans, Episode 2: The Brothers at War.
Lady Joan's husband Robert Stewart (1379 - 1449) was the 1st Lord of Lorne and the brother of James Stewart (1399 - 1451), the Black Knight of Lorne.
In other words, my Granny Shaw is a 14th-great granddaughter of Robert Stewart the 1st Lord of Lorne, and a 14th-great grand niece of James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorne.
Since my Granny Shaw is a descendant of Agnes, the daughter of Robert Stewart the 1st Lord of Lorne, she may also claim direct descent from Robert the Bruce. Both of the Lorne boys were descendants of Robert The Bruce via their mother, Isabel (MacDougall) Stewart (1362 - 1439), whose maternal grandmother was Matilda "Maude" Bruce (1303 - 1353), the daughter of King Robert the Bruce by his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh.
WikiTree's Relationship Finder indicates that I am a 19th-great grandson of King Robert III (1337 - 1406) Wiki ID Stewart-972, sharing 120 relatives with King Robert over the past 30 generations. Therefore I'm fairly certain my family, both paternal and maternal, will pass the Stewart Society's tests . . . well, everything but the hammer throw and drinking contests.
Robert III is the 19th great grandfather of Mark
This makes Robert III the 19th great grandfather of Mark.
King James II Stewart (1430 - 1460) is the 15th-great grandfather of my grandma Bernie,
This makes James II Stewart, King of Scots, the 15th-great grandfather of Bernie, the 16th-great grandfather of her children, and the 17th-great grandfather of her grandchildren.
Two very important Stewart names seem to be missing from my Stewart family tree. When one thinks of the House of Stewart (Stuart), one most often thinks of
and Mary's son (by Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley):
My paternal grandmother, Mildred Bell Shaw, definitely told the family that her Shaws were related in some way to King James, Mary, Queen of Scots and the House of Stewart. In the words of her son David Shernick: "The yak on Aunt Sadie is that the family have been Catholic on both sides at one time or another, having come from Jamie, King of Scots, on Mom's side."
A tall tale? In fact that claim is quite plausible: In old maps of Scottish Clans, the Highland Shaws lived right next door to the Stewart Clan, and the Stewart Kings appointed the Lowland Shaws (the Shaws of Sauchie, or Clan Schaw) as the official masons, builders and keepers of the House of Stewart's royal castles.
My granny Shaw descended from the Schaws of Sauchie, and her forefathers served as architects, master stonemasons and construction workers for hundreds of years. See The Shaw Genealogy by Jared L. Olar for details.
Linking the Shaws to the Stewarts therefore ought to be a cinch. It is well known that King James V of Scotland, who was the father of Mary, Queen of Scots, also had nine illegitimate children, including a son by his mistress Elizabeth Shaw (1510 - 1590), but the offspring of that union took the name Stewart, not Shaw.
It seemed to me very likely that WikiTree's "Relationship Finder" tool would find some hidden link between my granny Mildred Shaw and King James I (King James VI), who was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.
But I was wrong. Wrong grandmother! It turned out, while playing with the Relationship Finder, that my grandmother Bernice directly descends from the House of Stewart.
According to Wiki Tree's Relationship Finder Tool, I am related to Mary, Queen of Scots and King James VI of Scotland (King James I of England, for whom the King James Bible is named), through my maternal grandmother, Bernice Gabriel.
"James VI and I and Mark are second cousins 13 times removed."
"James VI and I Stuart and Mark Shernick are both descendants of John (Stewart) Stuart" -- aka Sir John (Stewart) Stuart (1490 - 1526), the 3rd Earl of Lennox.
King James descended from John Stuart's son Matthew Stuart. My grandmother Bernie descended from John Stuart's son John.
Determined not to leave my poor Granny Shaw in the lurch, I went back to the Relationship Finder and popped her ID into the search engine with that of Mary Queen of Scots.
Turns out my Granny Shaw and Mary, Queen of Scots are indeed distant cousins:
"Mildred and Mary I are fifth cousins 11 times removed."
Mildred (Shaw) Shernick and Mary I (Stewart) Stuart are both descendants of Margaret (Beauchamp) Welles (1410 - 1447), the Duchess of Somerset.
This is a line of descent through Mildred's Shaw family. But Mildred also has several lines of Stewart descent through her Perry family as well. In total, she shares 261 relatives in common with Mary Queen of Scots over 30 generations.
I am tempted to say: "Lesson learned: Not all family myths are true." But who knows? Perhaps, some day, as I fill in more details in my Shaw family tree, Mary, Queen of Scots will suddenly "stand up in my soup."
Descendants of the Sinclair family have two main lineage societies:
All sorts of ancient legends surround the Sinclairs, who were Knights Templar. For example: Who really discovered America? Was it Christopher Columbus? Or Henry Sinclair?
"On 2 June, 1398, Henry Sinclair allegedly became the first European to set foot in North America -- almost 100 years before Christopher Columbus arrived to claim the credit." So begins a story on this fascinating subject in the Scotland Correspondent.
For more on the "discovery" of America by Henry Sinclair, see Holy Grail Across the Atlantic: The Secret History of Canadian Discovery and Exploration (Dudurn, 1988) by Michael Anderson Bradley, and The Knights Templar in the New World: How Henry Sinclair Brought the Grail to Acadia (Destiny Books, 2004) by William F. Mann.
The Sinclairs have been made famous by Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, which suggests that they have been hiding a secret bloodline for more than a thousand years. The final scene of the movie Da Vinci Code is shot at Rosslyn Chapel, which was built by the Sinclairs.
William Sinclair (1404 - 1480), the 1st Earl Caithness and 3rd Earl of Orkney, was the Baron of Roslin and the famous builder of Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian, Scotland.
William Sinclair (1404 - 1480) is WikiTree ID Sinclair-144
Relationship Finder: 'William is the 16th great grandfather of Mark."
This makes Sir William Sinclair the 16th great grandfather of Mark Shernick.
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) is a fairly well-known English playwright.
WikiTree ID: Shakespeare-1
See also: William Shakespeare's Family Tree illustration at Google Groups.
Some American genealogists claim that John Hall moved to America. See for example the Rootsweb page for John Hall at this link. Others say it was his son, John Hall Jr., who sailed the briny deep. According to these genealogists, John Hall left England and settled in Middletown, Connecticut after 1635.
This amazing lineage leads directly to Henry Hall and the Halls of Rhode Island, the ancestors of my grandmother Bernice Libel. Henry Hall of Rhode Island was definitely the grandson of a man named John Hall from Middletown, Connecticut.
If John Hall of Middletown, Connecticut, really was the son of John Hall (1575 - 1635) and Susanna (Shakespeare) Hall of Stratford-upon-Avon, then he was my 11th-Great Grandfather and they were my 12th-Great Grandparents.
Which would make William Shakespeare my 13th-Great Grandfather.
But the link between the John Hall who wed Susanna Shakespeare and the John Hall who arrived in Connecticut is speculative at best and certainly not well documented. In fact, Dr. John Hall of Stratford-upon-Avon died on 25 November 1635. He did not sail for Connecticut.
To my knowledge there are no birth records or probate records showing that he had a son named John.
Is it possible the John Hall who arrived in Connecticut, married and became the father of Henry Hall, was an undocumented son of John Hall and Susanna Shakespeare? If his father left him little or no fortune, would it not make sense for John the younger to set sail for the New World in 1635?
Well, yes, theoretically it is possible they were related, but therein lies the problem with undocumented children: They aren't documented. They are only theories.
Perhaps a ship's passenger list will show John's name, but a ship's passenger list really proves nothing about parentage.
Translation: Dead End.
However, it is interesting to note that there is a general consensus that the Halls of Rhode Island are from Warwickshire, not far from Stratford, and they are most likely cousins to the John Hall who married into the Shakespeare family.
Moreover, one finds several of the names of well-documented Shakespeare family cousins (collateral names) amongst the first settlers who moved to Rhode Island with Henry Hall.
All of this strongly suggests that a close link to the Shakespeare family may soon come to light. But much, much better documentation is needed.
Meanwhile, I've found three other routes to William Shakespeare, these much less fantastic.
As many Shakespearean scholars are well aware, there has been a serious debate over whether the William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon could possibly have written the plays and poems attributed to his name. Some say that William Shakespeare of Stratford was merely a semi-literate businessman. In fact, he was the local butcher -- and his name was probably adopted as a joke by the actual author of the plays, who was clearly a well-educated member of the aristocracy.
See the Wikipedia article titled Shakespeare authorship question for an overview of the top four candidates for the man who actually wrote the plays and sonnets under the pen name "William Shakespeare."
The top four candidates (out of 80 names proposed) are:
With regard to Sir Francis Bacon, I am a third cousin 13 times removed. We share 375 relatives in common over 30 generations.
A number of well-qualified scholars and academics have put forward the theory that the plays of William Shakespeare were actually written by Edward de Vere (1550 - 1604), the 17th Earl of Oxford.
Indeed an entire website has been devoted to this theory. To examine some of the documentation and reasoning behind these claims, see the Devere Society's website here.
If in fact the name William Shakespeare was just a pen name for Edward de Vere, then I am still very possibly related to "Shakespeare" as a cousin, for I am Edward de Vere's first cousin 14 times removed. That is, I descend from one of Edward de Vere's female cousins, Frances de Vere, who married into the Howard family.
According to WikiTree's relationship finder, my relationship to Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, is as follows:
Mark and Edward are first cousins 14 times removed. They share 328 common ancestors within 30 generations.
Mark Shernick and Edward de Vere are both descendants of Sir John de Vere, the 15th Earl of Oxford.
This makes Sir John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford, the grandfather of Edward de Vere ("William Shakespeare").
This makes Sir John Devere, the 15th Earl of Oxford, the 14th-great grandfather of Mark.
In other words, if William Shakepeare was actually Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, then Mark is Shakepeare's first cousin 14 times removed.
Note also the direct descent from Thomas Howard KG (Knight of the Garter). This lineage (if it can be well documented) puts my family in line for membership in the
If William Shakespeare was actually Sir William Stanley, KG (1561 - 1642), I'm still in luck, because I am Stanley's second cousin, 14 times removed. Remarkably, it's a lineage that is almost identical to the one listed above. It seems that both Devere and Stanley were related through the Thomas Howard family:
Thanks to the Howard family, one of the First Families of Virginia, I am related to two of the top candidates for William Shakespeare.
If William Shakespeare turns out to be Kitt Marlowe, however, I am out of luck! The WikiTree relationship finder tool shows absolutely no relationship between Christopher Marlowe and me.
Why? Because nobody has done Kitt Marlowe's family tree.
Want to build Marlowe's family tree? He has his own group of supporters called The Marlowe Society, and their website provides a start.
John Dryden (1631 - 1700) was an English poet, translator, critic and playwright.
John Dryden's WikiTree ID: Dryden-69
John and Mark are second cousins 12 times removed.
John Dryden and Mark Shernick are both descendants of John Dryden Esq.
This makes John the great grandfather of John.
This makes John the 13th great grandfather of Mark.
Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745) was an Irish satirist, the author of Gulliver's Travels and an essay titled "A Modest Proposal."
Jonathan Swift's WikiTree ID: Swift-1107
Jonathan and Mark are first cousins 11 times removed
Jonathan Swift Jr. and Mark Shernick are both descendants of the Rev. Thomas Swift (1595 - 1658).
Jonathan Swift Jr. was the son of Rev. Thomas Swift's son Jonathan Swift Sr. Mark is a descendant of the Rev. Thomas Swift's son Adam Swift (an uncle of the famous author).
This makes Thomas the grandfather of Jonathan.
This makes Thomas the 11th great grandfather of Mark.
Cyndi's List provides an excellent summary of Early American Lineage Societies that may be of interest to genealogists. Wikipedia also provides an extensive List of Hereditary and Lineage Organizations. The longest and most complete list, however, is the List of Lineage Societies provided by Lineage Society of America.com.
Among these lineage societies, the best are not snobs: They tend to have been founded before 1900, they have a brick-and-mortar address, they charge a reasonable membership fee, and in return for your money they provide some help with researching your family tree.
The Huguenot Society of America, for example, uses its handsome and professionally built website to provide a useful list of ancestors who make you qualified for membership. Find these names on WikiTree, run them through the Relationship Finder tool, and you can find out quickly if you qualify for membership.
To find out whether my family's New England, New Netherland and Early Virginian ancestors qualify for membership in the "most respectable" lineage societies, I simply made a list of the lineage societies I found attractive. Then, using the society names as headings, I composed a list of ancestors who might serve to qualify me as a candidate for membership.
A single afternoon of such sorting resulted in the following list, and the list made it clear that some societies are very good matches for my Early American ancestry, while others matched only one or two of my Early American ancestors:
Candidate ancestors in my family:
Candidate ancestors in my family:
Candidate ancestors in my family:
Flagon and Trencher: Descendants of Colonial Tavern Keepers - one of the most merry among the Early American Lineage Societies based on occupation.
Candidate ancestors in my family:
Perhaps the spookiest Early American Lineage society on the internet is the Bloodlines of Salem, a genealogical group founded at Salt Lake City, Utah in 2007 that specializes in tracing the family trees of well-known celebrities (including U.S. presidents) back to the people who participated in the Salem Witch trials of 1692.
Please note: Any careful reading of this chapter in American history will lead one to the grim conclusion that the real issue is not witchcraft so much as social paranoia and the very serious danger of religious and social persecution that has always existed in America. The accusers were very clearly abusing their local justice system in order to take revenge on business rivals and personal enemies.
Perhaps that is why the playwright Arthur Miller chose to return to the subject of the Salem witch trials in his play The Crucible (1953) at the height of the Red Scare of the 1950s. If you find an ancestor caught in this crucible -- this challenge to our basic concepts of justice -- it makes you stop and think: What would I have done in the same situation?
WikiTree breaks the participants in the Salem Witch Trials into several groups: The Accused, The Afflicted Girls and Other Accusers, The Judges and Public Officials, The Jurors, and The Clergy.
In other words, to have an ancestor who lived in 17th Century Salem does not necessarily mean that one has a witch in the family. Rather, because the entire Plymouth Colony could easily have been fitted into a baseball stadium, and because they had intermarried and were all closely related, to join this lineage society is to join every single one of the categories: Accusers, accused, jurors, judges and clergy.
Feel a burning need to join the debate? If you wish to register as a descendant member, there is no fee. They simply ask "proof beyond doubt of your descent from or relationship with one or more participants of the trials with a pedigree. . . . Your pedigree should include your name and date of birth, and the names, dates of birth and dates of death of your ancestors or relatives to and including the ancestor or relative who was a trials participant. If the pedigree can be verified using online-genealogy services, we will approve your application."
WikiTree actually provides a list of participants in the Salem Witch Trials here: Salem Witch Trials. Plug their WikiTree ID into the Relationship Finder Tool and begin exploring the relationship between the accused witches of Salem and any celebrity who pops into your head.
"Notable Descendants and Relatives" are listed on the Bloodlines of Salem website. Buried in the fine print of this list one may find the following celebrities, members of the British Royal Family and Presidents of the United States. You may be surprised to discover how many decent and respectable people are among the descendants (more proof that descendants are not necessarily witches):
The inclusion of the Spencer family and the Royal Family of Britain may come as a surprise, but it is quite right: Lady Diana Spencer (1961 - 1997) and her brother, Charles, descend on their mother's side from Edmund Maurice Burke Roche (1885 - 1955), who has several Americans in his family tree, notably Samuel Bishop (1644 - 1687) of Essex County, Massachusetts, whose relatives Bridget, Edward and Sarah Bishop participated in the 1692 Witch trials at Salem, which is in Essex County, Massachusetts.
As for my own family, I would refer readers to the posting above, under the heading "Early American Ancestors." Anyone who has relatives among the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock or settled in the Plymouth Colony from 1630 to 1690 most likely has relatives among the colony at Salem.
In other words, people who have happily used WikiTree's Relationship Finder to trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, or who have proudly proven their blood relationship to America's "Pilgrim Fathers" are in for a bit of a jolt. The very same bloodlines most likely prove that they descend from the participants in the Salem Witch Trials as well!
I must say I was very stunned, puzzled and intrigued by my grandma Bernie's strong relationship to the Stewarts and English royalty in general. She'd lived all her life in a small town in Kansas, waiting tables and working at the local post office. What on Earth was going on here?
Wikitree led me to her family in Charles City, Virginia, and caused me to study these early Virginians more closely. Eventually, after a great deal of reading, I discovered a chapter of American history that most history teachers skip, as they race from the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620 to the American Revolution of 1776.
It turns out that governor William Bradford (1590 - 1650), one of the leaders of the Puritan separatists who arrived on the Mayflower, had originally intended to land his ship in Virginia, but chose Plymouth, Massachusetts, instead. The Virginia colonies, and notably Jamestown, were founded a full 13 years earlier than the Plymouth Colony, and this is why the state of Virginia is sometimes referred to as Old Dominion.
The Bradford family of Virginia (relatives to William) were also early founders of both Jamestown and Charlestown, Virginia, and when civil war broke out in England in 1642, they joined forces with the Cavaliers: They supported King Charles Stewart and the Stewart dynasty.
To quote David Thomas Bradford and his excellent book, The Bradfords of Charles City County Virginia and some of their Descendants:
"In 1642, the outbreak of the Civil War in England precipitated an exodus of the throne’s loyalists to the Virginia Colony. That exodus escalated with the beheading of King Charles in 1649 and ended with the Restoration of the Stuarts to the throne in 1660. Hence, the population of the Virginia Colony, which had reached only 8,000 by 1640, grew to 15,000 by 1650 and swelled to 40,000 by 1666."
The governor of Virginia at that time, Sir William Berkeley, was a well-known supporter of the Cavaliers. See the Wikipedia article Virginia Cavaliers (historical) for more background.
My grandmother Bernie's ancient line of descent from the first families of Virginia meant she had Cavaliers in her family tree: They were British aristocrats who not only supported the Stewart family in their war for the British throne, but also directly descended from the Stewart clan (which is a very large clan indeed).
When driven out of England, these families chose to settle in the Cavalier-friendly Colony of Virginia, where they intermarried for the next 300 years.
Wikitree had not made up a thing: This was not some data entry error. Bernie really was a descendant of the ancient Stewart kings of England and Scotland and the noble families who supported the Stewarts during the First English Civil War of 1642 - 1649 -- a war my history teachers had kinda skipped. This is why she had not one, but several lines leading back to the Stewart clan.
The many descendants of these families are strong candidate of an old and respectable Lineage Society:
What is a Cavalier? It's a slippery term.
In general, it refers to any British ancestor who participated in the English Civil Wars of the 17th Century and supported King Charles I. One's ancestor may presumably be a British Cavalier without a fancy pedigree, so long as that ancestor served in the British army that supported King Charles. The army lists of men who served King Charles I in their battles with the "Roundheads" (supporters of Sir Oliver Cromwell) may be found in a free Archive.org book that proves a very helpful resource:
Peacock, Edward (editor). The Army Lists of the Roundheads and Cavaliers, containing the names of the officers in the royal and parliamentary armies of 1642 (London: Chatto & Windus, Picadilly, 1874).
One's Early American ancestor might also be considered a Colonial Cavalier (for example, a Virginia Cavalier or Rhode Island Cavalier) so long as that ancestor supported King Charles in principle, and admired him from a distance, and remained loyal by refusing to fight against him.
But how does one actually tell if one's Early American relatives are Cavaliers? Is there a litmus test? There's the rub! The ODCC provides its own definition on its Membership Page here.
If you Google the term "Cavalier" and the term Virginia, you are likely to hit a website for a basketball team: The Virginia Cavaliers. Even after making an effort to clarify the search terms, you may find yourself lost among a dozen websites for AKC bred King Charles Spaniels, cute, sad-eyed dogs which are in serious want of rescue.
It takes a mighty effort to finally reach the Wikipedia article on Virginia Cavaliers (historical), which finally explains why some people named their favorite breed of mutt "King Charles" -- King Charles was the Stuart King who lost the First English Civil War in 1649, with the result that boatloads of well-pedigreed English nobility made a mad dash for the exit, jumped the Atlantic puddle, and landed with a splash in Virginia, Rhode Island, Barbados, or a colony generally thought to be a Cavalier-friendly place.
The term "Cavalier" may still be uncomfortably vague, but it definitely helps genealogists to understand why so many people left Britain and landed in the Colonies in the 1650s. Many geneaolgists who trace their families back to Virginia are surprised to find people with excellent British pedigrees living in swamps and cursing a great deal.
Now you know why they were grumpy, well-trained in the martial arts and quite willing to fight the armies of King George III (Hanover) during the American Revolution. The Cavalier tradition (participation in the English Civil War) also explains why many of the first families of Virginia were quite willing to launch another Civil War in America during the 1860s.
Cavaliers tend to be inordinately fond of Civil Wars, related to the Stewart family, and very proud of their status as "landed gentry." Many of them preserved records of their lineage with great care, and one may therefore be blessed with a long and well-established British lineage, once one has truly proven one's descent from a Cavalier.
Candidate ancestors in my own family:
If you think that old men who wear wigs are funny, you're right.
But there are still some people who take them terribly seriously, especially if they were famous lawyers, judges or a member of the House of Burgesses -- that is to say, leaders of the legislature in Colonial Virginia.
As proof, I would direct your attention to an interesting Lineage Society: American Descendants of the House of Burgess 1619 - 1699
Chartered by the State of Virginia in July 2009, the American Descendants of the House of Burgess is a lineage society "devoted solely to honor the memories of the Virginia Burgesses who served during the 1619-1699 years of the Assembly."
As an organization devoted to scholarship, this lineage society actively funds scholarship students at some of Virginia's best schools.
My own family could potentially join, based on our descent from
To support members who take an interest in old men in funny wigs, WikiTree has created a special page where one may find a list of many members of the House of Burgesses. It's at Category: House of Burgesses.
The House of Burgess lineage society cites its favorite source as The General Assembly of Virginia, 1619 - 1978; A Bicentennial Register of Members (Virginia State Library, 1978)
Just as the Puritans were driven out of England by Catholics, so too were the members of the Reformed (Protestant) Church of France pushed out of their homes in southern and western France by angry Catholics.
Specifically, Mary Queen of Scots, as the consort of King Francis II, made a point of persecuting French Protestants. The result: More than eight Civil Wars in France between 1568 and 1598, collectively known as the French Wars of Religion.
Called Huguenots, many of the French protestants (or Calvinists) who fled from these religious wars traveled to America, to what they hoped would be New France, a region that combined the Canadian colonies of Montreal and Quebec with several additional French-speaking colonies along the shores of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.
These colonies overlapped with several Dutch colonies, with the result that Huguenots tended to have names that are a curious mixture of the French and Dutch languages. Here is an example from my own family tree:
Because many French Huguenots escaped France via the Netherlands, and married spouses in Holland, they may also be found on the lists of the Holland Society,
The Roosevelts and other well-known families of New York have played important roles in the history of the United States, and their Lineage Society is a very well heeled organization:
Candidate ancestors in my family:
Candidate ancestors in my family:
When the Stewarts lost their battle to reclaim the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland, they were replaced by William and Mary, who granted many of their Scottish supporters lands in County Ulster (northern Ireland).
It's not a pretty tale: Many Irish lords who had held land in the same location for centuries were brutally forced out of their family homes, and replaced by Scotsmen. These Scottish tended to be staunch Presbyterians, and they ran smack into the beliefs of devout Irish Catholics. Thus 300 years of "troubles" began in Ulster.
To this day, the Irish-Scots of Ulster are known as "Orange men," so-called after their patron, William of Orange. The Scots-Irish who left Ulster and moved to America are also called Orange men, and many settled in places like Orange County, New York.
My own family tree contains some worthy examples, and therefore I may qualify to join their lineage society:
Candidate ancestors in my family:
Years ago, while rummaging through my Shaws in upstate New York, I became mightily confused. Why did their records dead end?
As I looked at the history of the Shaw family in Niagara County, I began to read more about the history of Ft. Niagara and discovered to my surprise that it was a Loyalist stronghold.
People who tried to remain loyal to their king were often treated very brutally by the Yanks, and run off their lands: their crops and livestock were stolen, their houses were burned. As they retreated in terror, many of them fled up the Mohawk River Valley and took shelter under British protection at Fort Niagara.
The men among these refugees, the ones who could fight, were enlisted in British "ranger units," given uniforms, trained and equipped with arms. Their battalions became known as "Johnson's Rangers" or "The Queen's Rangers," and they were actually exceptionally good fighters.
The problem is: They lost.
Result, many were force-marched across the border to Canada, to settle in Ontario, while the members of their family who had joined with the rebellion and signed with General Washington's militia were allowed to stay, and rewarded with much of the farmland that fell "forfeit" to the victors.
Now the Canadian border at this time was very porous, and after a few decades, the families divided by the war began to reunite and visit each other, some of their children actually returning to New York.
Among these farmers, there tended to be dead silence when quizzed about their family's past. Apparently, I had some very quiet Shaws, and when I looked across the border at Canada and Ontario -- ta dah! I suddenly understood why they had never been invited to tea by the DAR.
There are, however, some lineage societies which will very happily pour them a strong cuppa tea, namely
Candidate ancestors in my family:
The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada Candidate ancestors in my family:
The Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution have excellent genealogy help pages online. You might be surprised to discover that one of your own ancestors has already been thoroughly researched and vetted, with the result that you can become a member of DAR or SAR.
With respect to my ancestors, I am working on the following lines of descent from veterans of the American Revolution. Some have already been approved by DAR and SAR, others need much more research.
Lineage of Paternal Grandmother Mildred Bell Shaw
Lineage of Maternal Grandfather Lawrence Michael Gabriel Sr.
Lineage of Maternal Grandmother Bernice Libel
Are you a descendant of one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
There's an easy way to find out: Go to WikiTree's Signers of the United States Declaration of Independence page, and use the linked list of 56 signers there to visit their WikiTree profile pages.
You can use the Relationship Finder Tool or (if you are logged in) you can simply use the drop-down menu to search for "Relationship to Me." Be sure to click on the "More than 30 generations button."
When I ran my own WikiTree ID Shernick-1 through this list, I was very surprised to discover that I am a distant, distant, distant cousin to 31 Signers! They are listed below, with the most closely related (third cousins) listed first, the most distant cousins listed last:
Will you be one of the lucky ducks who turns out to be a direct descendant? If you are, then there is a wonderful Lineage Society just for you: The DSDI.
That is, the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Among other activities, they like to collect family stories and anecdotes.
I cannot tell a lie! Despite many people in my family photo album with very wooden smiles, it would appear that none of my close relatives are direct descendants of George Washington. We are, at best, distant cousins.
Are you a direct descendant of George Washington? That's strange! He and Martha had no children.
If, however, you are a direct descendant of his grandfather Capt. john Washington (1692 - 1746), then
My family missed the boat on this one. We are part of the riff-raff who are vaguely related to Zachary Taylor and such ilk. But there are a curiously large number of people who actually do claim relationship to George Washington's Family: By some estimates, more than 8,000.
Apparently the Colonial Inns on the East Coast who place signs in their windows reading "George Washington's Second Cousin Slept Here" are not exaggerating. Those Washingtons! They got around.
For those who believe that they are related to any President of the United States, the boat to catch is:
Throw money at them, and they may seat you in the Grover Cleveland section. The first-class seats, of course, are strictly reserved for relatives of Washington and other Founding Fathers.
The WikiTree "Relationship Finder Quick Links" Page indicates that I am only distantly related to U.S. President George Washington through my maternal grandmother, Bernice Gabriel.
Specifically, I am an 8th Cousin 8 times removed. This explains why George hasn't written.
President George Washington's WikiTree ID: Washington-11.
George Washington and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Jane (Spencer) Cope (1462 - 1526), of Hodnell, Warwickshire, England.
When I saw that name, I had to do a double-take. It is through this very same Lady of the British nobility, Jane (Spencer) Cope, that I am related to Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626).
Sir Francis Bacon descends from Jane's daughter Alice. He is Jane's great-great-grandson.
This makes Lady Jane (Spencer) Cope the second-great grandmother of Sir Francis Bacon.
President George Washington also descended from Jane Cope's daughter, Alice. He is Lady Jane's seventh-great grandson. George shares 8 relatives in common with Sir Francis Bacon over 15 generations.
This makes Jane the seventh-great grandmother of George Washington.
And, yes, you guessed it, Lady Jane (Spencer) Cope (WikiTree ID: Spencer-204) is the 13th-great grandmother of Lady Diana Spencer (WikiTree ID: Spencer-40). Lady Diana Spencer descended from Lady Jane Spencer's son John Cope.
This makes Jane the 13th-great grandmother of Lady Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales.
My own grandmother Bernice (Libel) Gabriel also descended from Lady Jane (Spencer) Cope's son, John.
This makes Jane the 15th-great grandmother of Mark.
The Relationship Finder tool indicates I am also distantly related to U.S. President Thomas Jefferson through my grandmother Bernice Gabriel.
President Thomas Jefferson's WikiTree ID: Jefferson-1
"Thomas and Mark are 6th cousins 8 times removed."
"Thomas Jefferson and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Elizabeth (Dale) Rosewell (1518 - 1568)."
President Jefferson descended from Elizabeth's son Sir Euseby Rosewell. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy also descended from Euseby. My grandmother Bernice descended from Euseby's sister, Philippa.
This makes Elizabeth the fifth-great grandmother of Thomas.
This makes Elizabeth the 13th-great grandmother of Mark.
Amongst American lineage societies, the societies that pay tribute to ancestors who fought in the War of 1812 might be called the little sisters and little brothers of the DAR. They are summarized at Cyndi's List (here) and they include:
The General Society of the War of 1812, which has state chapters, and
The National Society United States Daughters of 1812, abbreviated as USD 1812.
Candidate ancestors in my family:
Here are some useful links for doing research of your own:
United States in the War of 1812 - FamilySearch Wiki
The War of 1812 Project - WikiTree
WikiTree's Relationship Finder tool and its Connection Finder tool both indicate that I am a first cousin, seven times removed, from Benjamin Howard (1760 - 1814), a Congressman from Kentucky who was appointed by President James Madison to serve as the first governor of the Louisiana Purchase (Louisiana Territory), which was renamed Missouri Territory in 1812.
During the War of 1812, Benjamin Howard (WikiTree ID Howard-831) became a Brigadier General and served as commander of the entire 8th Military District (all U.S. territory west of the Mississippi River).
Benjamin Howard and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Allen Howard (1685 - 1781) of Goochland County, Virginia. Allen Howard served as a member of Virginia's House of Burgesses in the assemblies of 1752-1755 and 1758-1761.
Gov. Benjamin Howard descends from Allen Howard's son John Howard. Mark descends from Allen Howard's daughter (John Howard's sister) Elizabeth (Howard) Sims.
This makes Allen Howard the grandfather of Benjamin Howard.
This makes Allen Howard the seventh great grandfather of Mark Shernick.
WikiTree's Connection Finder tool can illustrate this relationship graphically by using the Alternative View: Generational Path button.
In other words, if you are not entirely obsessed by consanguinity (shared bloodlines), but simply want to show a connection -- any connection -- between any two people in the tree, you can do so. The Connection Finder is an amazingly fun and powerful tool which shows "degrees of separation." In a matter of minutes it can trace the known zig-zag connections between any two people on the tree.
You can even do your research by theme. For example, if you choose the theme "heroes of the United States Navy" you may compile a short list of Navy heroes who interest you, find their WikiTree IDs, then use the Connection Finder to see if you have any zig-zag relationships to them at all.
Because I have people named Perry and Jones in my family tree, it is quite natural for me to wonder if I have any zig-zag relationships to the famous U.S. Navy heroes John Paul Jones or Commodore Matthew C. Perry.
To answer this question, I use WikiTree's main search engine to find the profile for each:
Commodore Matthew C. Perry (1794 -1858) has WikiTree ID Perry-4559
John Paul Jones (1747 - 1792) has WikiTree ID Paul-2245.
I write down both WikiTree IDs.
To find my zig-zag connections to Commodore Perry, I go to the Connection Finder (an address which I have saved in my Favorites). I put his Wiki ID into the first field and put my own Wiki ID Shernick-1 in the second field, then hit the Find Connection button.
The search engine chugs away for a very long time. Final Results: "No Connection Found . . . Yet." Although I have two large branches of the Perry family in my tree (both my father and mother have Perry family in their pedigrees), their families and relatives have not been connected in any way to Commodore Perry's family or his relatives . . . . yet. This could change in a week, if some industrious genealogist tackled Commodore Matthew C. Perry's lineage hard and took it back a few more generations, but for now there is no known connection.
To find my zig-zag connections to John Paul Jones, I go to the Connection Finder. I load his ID into the first field and put my own Wiki ID into the second field, then hit the Find Connection button.
The results take only a split second: I am only 14 degrees of separation from U.S. Navy hero John Paul Jones.
WikiTree can graphically illustrate this relationship in two or three different ways, and the way I like best is their Alternative View: Generational Path. When I hit the Alternative View Generational Path button, it traces the zig-zag path that leads from my family to that of John Paul Jones.
Surprise! The path leads through the Perry family in my maternal tree.
My mother was a descendant of Mary (Hinchman) Perry (1775 - 1832) who had a sister named Florence Perry whose granddaughter Julia Canterbury (1845 - 1919) married to Lewis Anderson Jones (1840 - 1880), who is a great-grandson of U.S. Navy hero John Paul Jones.
So my Perry family do have a naval hero in their tree -- but it's an unexpected zig-zag path that leads to John Paul Jones.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a man with a good pedigree -- preferrably one very similar to that of Jane Austen.
Do I possess such a pedigree? Ehem. It matters not! A true heart that leads one to the doorstep of Jane Austen will certainly prevail. And if true love should fail, well . . . the gift shops at the Jane Austen's House Museum at Bath or the Jane Austen Centre will happily sell one any Jane Austen bobblehead or "I heart Jane" book bag one might desire.
For those who have no desire whatever to be scalped by internet trinket shops, congratulations, and welcome back to the austere world of Austen sanity. We Janeites gently applaud you through kid gloves. You may wish to adore Jane from a distance by joining one of the many literary reading groups listed by the Jane Austen Societies at the Republic of Pemberley website.
For those quiet and gentle souls who also wish to pursue Jane Austen's family genealogy, there is also hope.
Jane Austen's family and ancestry have been summarized by Wikipedia here.
Ronald Dunning, one of Jane Austen's relatives, has published a new and very thoroughly detailed version of the Austen family tree at RootsWeb here.
Finding one's own relationship to Jane Austen may be as simple as building one's own family tree on WikiTree, then using the relationship finder tool to find a match on Jane Austen herself: Her WikiTree ID is Austen-489.
The results may not show a very close relationship -- but for true fans of Jane Austen, any relationship at all is quite gratifying. An example is given below:
Jane and Mark are 10th cousins four times removed.
Jane Austen (Wiki ID: Austen-489) and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Sir Robert Needham of Sheinton, Shropshire, England (1476 - 1556). Jane Austen descended from Sir Robert's daughter Margaret. Mark Shernick descends from Sir Robert's daughter Jane.
The connection is through Mark's paternal grandmother, Mildred Bell Shaw, via the Scribner family.
This makes Sir Robert Needham the ninth-great grandfather of Jane Austen.
This makes Sir Robert Needham the 13th-great grandfather of Mark Shernick.
One may therefore logically deduce that Mark and Jane are cousins and besties forever.
Unfortunately, when we are eventually seated for tea in heaven, it seems that a rival male has pushed his way between Mark and cousin Jane: I've been upstaged!
Strangely, Sir Robert Needham is also the 12th-great grandfather of comedian Jonathan Winters. Like Jane Austen, Jonathan Winters descends from Sir Robert Needham's daughter Margaret.
Jonathan Winters III (Wiki ID: Winters-2566) and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Robert Needham.
This makes Sir Robert Needham the 12th-great grandfather of Jonathan Winters. Jonathan is one seat closer to Jane than Mark.
Mark is a fourth great grand nephew of Ezekiel Smith (1781 - 1854), a Texas Ranger and hero of Texas.
Ezekiel Smith and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Isaac Smith Jr..
1. Ezekiel is the son of Isaac Smith Jr. [unknown confidence] This makes Isaac the father of Ezekiel.
This makes Isaac the fifth great grandfather of Mark.
The American Civil War was one of the least civil wars ever fought by mankind, yet Americans are still madly in love with it. Evidence of this fact may be found here:
To my mind, the most respectable lineage societies pertaining to the Civil War include:
The Auxiliary to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States
Children of the Confederacy
My family shares many ancestors who fought in the American Civil War. So many, in fact, that it is perhaps best to group our Civil War veterans by family name.
To confirm that the ancestors listed below participated in the Civil War, I used the U.S. Civil War Soldier Records database at Ancestry.com and the free search engine provided by the National Park Service here: The Civil War - Search for Soldiers Page.
None of my paternal grandfather's family served in the American Civil War, with the interesting exception of a cousin:
Edward Scharnikow (1832 - 1893), enlisted 23 April 1861 in New York City. Served in Company I, New York 8th Infantry Regiment. Promoted to Full Corporal on 11 Feb 1862. Promoted to Full Sergeant on 11 Nov 1862. Mustered out on 23 Apr 1863 at Brooks' Station, VA.
Shaw, Robert Harper (1847 - 1916), my great-great grandfather, served as a "cannon boy," according to the family history notes of my grandmother, Mildred Bell Shaw. Battle Unit Name: 8th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery Side: Union. Company: H. Soldier's Rank In: Private. Soldier's Rank Out: Private. Film Number: M551 ROLL 127
According to New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. (Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912), his regiment was mustered at Lockport, NY under Col. Peter A. Porter.
Robert Harper Shaw served three additional years, during the Reconstruction period, from December 13, 1865 to December 13, 1868, with the 15th Infantry Regiment, Co. G, which was stationed in the deep South. He was honorably discharged at Huntsville, Alabama, at the end of this tour.
Robert continued to serve as a "weekend warrior" with the National Guard until 1881. His unit served on the streets of Chicago, Illinois, after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. His record indicates he was discharged from the 14th Brigade, New York National Guard in 1881.
Robert lost two of his older brothers to the Civil War, David Shaw and John Shaw.
Shaw, David (1837 - 1863), "served in Navy, Pacific Coast, for 3 years. Discharged June 26, '62."
David Shaw is listed in the U.S., Naval Enlistment Rendezvous, 1855-1891, Volume: 10, NARA Publication Title: Weekly return of enlistments at Naval Rendezvous ("Enlistment Rendezvous"), Jan. 6, 1855-Aug. 8, 1891 NARA Publication Number: M1953 NARA Roll: 10 FHL Film Number: 2367949.
David Shaw also appears in the New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900. Already a veteran at age 24, he voluntarily enlisted for three years in Company F, New York 97th Infantry Regiment on 28 Jul 1863, at Lockport, New York.
In other words, he signed immediately after the Battle of Gettysburg, in which the New York 97th Infantry, known as the "Conklin Rifles," participated. At Gettysburg, the 97th "distinguished itself by the brilliantly executed capture of the colors of the 20th N. C. and 382 prisoners."
Having signed up in July, David apparently participated with the 97th Infantry in the Bristoe Campaign, a series of short and sharp skirmishes that took place in September and October 1863.
David "mustered out" on 03 Nov 1863. To be more exact, David was killed by friendly fire on 3 November 1863, just a few days before the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station.
Shaw, John (1842 - 1862) enlisted on 28 October 1861 with the 1st New York Light Artillery, Battery M. Their unit was raised in Lockport, New York, under the command of Capt. George W. Cothran. In November they left for Washington, D.C., to defend the nation's capital. John died on 28 Jan 1862. The cause of his death: Diptheria and pneumonia. He died at Camp Barry, near Washington D.C. The place of his burial is uncertain, but he shares a family monument with his brother David at Cold Springs Cemetery, Lockport, New York.
A few months after his death, his unit moved to Maryland and participated in the First Battle of Winchester, VA, where they were badly mauled by Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
Shaw, Robert (1811 - 1876), my great-great-great grandfather, may be identical to the Robert Shaw of New York City who signed up in Octrober 1864 (at age 52), with the 5th New York Heavy Artillery. Having lost two sons, he certainly had a grudge to settle. If he is identical to the fightin' Irishman who joined the 5th Artillery, then he may have participated in Battle of Cedar Creek, VA on 19 October 1864. It was the final battle of the Valley Campaign, and knocked the South for a loop, putting an end to their invasion of the North. "The Confederacy was never again able to threaten Washington D.C."
My third-great grandfather Absalom Brown (1824 - 1863), of Jackson, Livingston County, Missouri, certainly died during the Civil War period. But where and how? He registered for the draft, but no record has been found of his enlistment. Did he serve the North or the South? He's a family history mystery.
Absalom Brown married Rosannah McClure, and my great-great-great grandmother Rosannah (McClure) Brown certainly had brothers who served the Confederacy in local Missouri regiments. If her husband, Absalom, served the North in an Ohio regiment, he could not have been very popular with Rosannah's brothers!
Most notable among Rosannah's brothers is Capt. William Pleasant McClure, Jr. (1834 - 1888), who served with the 1st Missouri Cavalry, CSA.
W .P. McClure in the U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865
That qualifies my family for membership in the
My great-great-grandfather John Adam Ulrich (1840 - 1912), of Springfield, Clark County, Ohio was for many years confused with his doppelganger, Sgt. John Adam Ullrich who registered at German, Clark County, Ohio and served with the 111th Ohio Infantry Regiment, Co. E.
Ancestry.com provides a clear death register and veteran's gravestone for Sgt. John Adam Ullrich (with two l's), who was born in 1838 and died in Toledo, Ohio in 1909.
My great-great-grandfather Ulrich was born at Annville, Pennsylvania, in 1840, moved to Springfield, Ohio in 1843, and died at at Livingston County, Missouri, in 1912.
A more careful examination of Civil War pension records shows Pvt. John Adam Ulrich enlisted in Company H of the 86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (the papers confirm his residence in Missouri and they are posted on his profile page).
This was a great lesson in sorting Civil War records very carefully!
French, Capt. Napoleon Bonaparte (1811 - 1899) 30th Battalion Virginia Sharpshooters, CSA. "On July 27, 1861, French was elected captain of a new company of cavalry organized in Mercer County. The unit was converted to artillery in November and became known as the Mercer Artillery or French's Battery." Thus Napeoleon B. French, who had no enthusiasm for secession and precious little training in the military arts, became the captain of "French’s Mercer County Battery" of the Confederate forces.
West's 1995 history of the 30th Battalion Virginia Sharpshooters (part of the Virginia Regimental History Series) indicates on page 241 that French's war career was not a long one.
"Travelling from Dublin Depot to Fort Donelson, Tennessee the company arrived on February 13, 1862. The artillerymen immediately participated in much of the three day battle. At least forty-six of its members surrendered with the other 12,000 Confederates on February 16. All the captured men, except three lieutenants, were sent to prison at Camp Douglas in Chicago. Captain French escaped capture, having never made it to Fort Donelson due to illness. On April 19 , French's artillery company was officially transferred to the battalion of sharpshooters."
"When the artillery company was converted to Company B of the sharpshooters, he retained command. French served as a captain of the company until resigning his position, due to age, on November 19, 1862."
Napoleon's gravestone (based on official records) indicates he was a "Captain, Co. B, 30th Battalion, Virginia Sharpshooters, CSA."
Smith, Lt. Theodore G. (1825 - 1879), 30th Battalion Virginia Sharpshooters, Co. B, CSA. Lt. Theodore Smith served under the command of his father-in-law, Capt. Napoleon B. French (Theodore married Napoleon's daughter, Eliza Jane French, in 1848). Taken prisoner at the battle of Ft. Donelson, Theodore was sent to Camp Chase, a notoriously harsh prison camp in Sandusky, Ohio.
Smith, Sgt. Isaac A. (1838 - ?), 30th Battalion Virginia Sharpshooters, Co. B. Theodore's brother, Isaac, also signed with the 30th Virginia, as a private. He was eventually promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
Deweese, Pvt. Andrew Jackson (1819 - 1899). Enlisted in Company H, Virginia 8th Cavalry Regiment on 05 Jul 1862. Mustered out on 15 Sep 1864. The 8th participated in Gen. Jubal T. Early's Shenandoah Valley operations and the Appomattox Campaign.
The Relationship Finder flags links that are uncertain based on the "confidence level" of each profile. Such is the case with my supposed relationship with distant cousin Abraham Lincoln: At least one of the profiles has been flagged "uncertain."
I am notionally related to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln through my paternal grandmother, Mildred Belle Shaw.
President Abraham Lincoln's WikiTree ID: Lincoln-103
"Abraham and Mark are 14th cousins four times removed (Uncertain)"
Abraham Lincoln and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Sir Roger Wentworth (1395 - 1452), one of Lincoln's aristocratic ancestors from Britain (Nettlestead, Suffolk).
President Lincoln descended from Sir Roger's daughter Agnes. My grandmother descended from Sir Roger's son, Henry.
This makes Sir Roger Wentworth the 13th great grandfather of President Abraham Lincoln.
This makes Sir Roger Wentworth the 17th-great grandfather of Mark Shernick.
As distant cousins go, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant is one of my closer distant cousins. But our family link is very far away in space (England) and time (16th Century), based on the tree of my maternal grandmother, Bernice (Libel) Gabriel.
President Hiram Ulysses Simpson Grant's WikiTree ID: Grant-468
"Ulysses S. and Mark are 9th cousins five times removed"
Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Elizabeth (Luttrell) Mallet (1530 - 1584) of Somerset, England.
President Grant descended from Elizabeth's son Thomas. My grandmother Bernice (Libel) Gabriel descended from Elizabeth's son George.
This makes Elizabeth Luttrell Mallet the eighth-great grandmother of President Ulysses S. Grant.
This makes Elizabeth the 13th great grandmother of Mark Shernick.
Thanks to my grandmother Bernice's Stewart lineage, I am also a cousin to Victoria Hannover, better known as Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901).
WikiTree ID: Hannover-14
"Victoria and Mark are 10th cousins five times removed."
Victoria (Hannover) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Mark Shernick are both descendants of John (Stewart) Stuart (1490 - 1562), the 3rd Earl of Lennox.
Queen Victoria descends from John Stewart's son Matthew, the father of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, who married Mary, Queen of Scots.
Mark descends from John Stewart's son John.
This makes John the ninth great grandfather of Victoria.
This makes John the 14th great grandfather of Mark.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) was a famous Irish author, satirist and playwright.
George Bernard Shaw's WikiTree ID: Shaw-5468
George Bernard and Mark are second cousins four times removed.
George Bernard Shaw and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Robert Shaw (1749 - 1796) of Terenure, Bushy Park, Dublin, Ireland.
This makes Robert the great grandfather of George Bernard.
This makes Robert the fifth great grandfather of Mark.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a distant cousin to my paternal grandmother, Mildred Belle Shaw, through her mother's Perry family lineage.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's WikiTree ID: Roosevelt-1
Relationship Finder: "Franklin and Mark are 7th cousins three times removed."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and my grandmother Mildred Belle Shaw were both descendants of Ezra Perry Sr. (1625 - 1689).
Ezra was part of the Great Puritan Migration to America. He left England as a young man, sailed the Atlantic about 1643 (age 18), and in 1644 (age 19) appears for the first time on the records of Sandwich, Massachussetts, a small town that was part of the Plymouth Colony. He married 12 February 1651 to Elizabeth Burgess and they had three children.
President Roosevelt descended from Ezra's daughter Deborah (Perry) Pope. My grandmother Shaw's family descended from Ezra's youngest son, Benjamin Perry.
This makes Ezra Perry the sixth-great grandfather of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
This makes Ezra Perry the ninth-great grandfather of Mark.
My grandmother Bernie's amazing family are the stem that connects my family tree to that of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's WikiTree ID: Kennedy-96
Relationship Finder: "John and Mark are 12th cousins twice removed."
"John Kennedy Sr and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Elizabeth (Dale) Rosewell."
Elizabeth Dale (1518 - 1518) of Bristol, Essex, England, married twice.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy descended from Elizabeth Dale's eldest son Sir Eusby Isham, by her first husband, Gregory Isham. President Thomas Jefferson also descended from Eusby.
My grandmother Bernice (Libel) Gabriel descended from Elizabeth Dale's daughter Philippa, by her second husband, Sir William Rosewell.
This makes Elizabeth Dale Rosewell the 11th-great grandmother of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
This makes Elizabeth Dale Rosewell the 13th-great grandmother of Mark Shernick.
One of the most famous graduates of Carleton College is Peter Thorkelson, better known as Peter Tork (1942 - 2019), a keyboardist and bass guitarist for the 1960s rock group The Monkees.
Peter's name is legend at Carleton, and we all regret his passing. For what it's worth, I am Peter's 8th Cousin twice removed, via the famous Kellogg family, the makers of wholesome cereal products.
I know that I will be perpetually banished from Rottblatt games on the Carleton quadrangle, now that my secret descent from St. Olaf (see above) has been discovered. But perhaps, because all Carls have a soft spot for Peter Tork, I will be allowed to carry the luggage of True Carls from the Stewart Hotel to Sayles-Hill campus center at our next alumni meeting. What? They call the Stewart Hotel the "Archer House Inn" now? After I worked my fingers to the nubs proving I was related to the Stewart family I have to pay full price? (Sigh).
Peter and Mark are 8th cousins twice removed
Peter (Thorkelson) Tork and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Joseph Kellogg.
This makes Joseph the seventh great grandfather of Peter.
This makes Joseph the ninth great grandfather of Mark.
Diana and Mark are 10th cousins once removed
Diana (Spencer) Princess of Wales and Mark Shernick are both descendants of Dr. Henry Woodward (1610 - 1683), a member of the Great Puritan Migration from England who settled at Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts.
Diana descends from Henry's daughter Freedom Woodward. Mark descends from Henry's son John Woodward.
This makes Henry the ninth great grandfather of Diana.
This makes Henry the tenth great grandfather of Mark.
My grandfather's sister, Ida Shernick, was quizzed about our family's Russian history in 1955 by my uncle, David Shernick. His typed transcript of the interview has been posted here.
For several reasons, the answers that Ida gave suggest she was describing the Counts and Countessas von Zarnekau, who were born in the 1880s to Duke Constantine Petrovich Oldenburg and his wife, Agrippina Djaparidze.
Agrippina was created the 1st Countess von Zarnekau in 1882, on the occasion of their wedding. She and Duke Constantine had three sons and three daughters. Hence, by the year 1900, there were three counts and four countesses von Zarnekau.
In a photo taken about 1903, my grandfather's brother Jakob is certainly wearing the uniform of an unterofficer in a Rifle Brigade of the Tsar's Imperial Life Guard.
One could not join the Imperial Life Guard regiments without the recommendation of a Russian General and a pedigree showing at least three generations of nobility.
The three counts von Zarnekau certainly descended from a relative of the Romanov family: Their paternal great-grandmother was a daughter of Tsar Paul I and a favorite sister of Tsar Alexander I. Getting the recommendation from a Russian general was no problem for them: Their father was a decorated General of Kuban Cossack cavalry, who had served with distinction in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. Their uncle, Nicholai Nicholaevich Romanov, was commander in chief of the entire Russian Army.
The counts von Zarnekau lived near Tiflis (Tibilsi), the capitol of Georgia, just as Ida says in her description of her own family.
But there are several problems with Ida's story. Most obvious is the fact that the names of her brothers and sisters don't really match with those of the counts and countesses.
Because I have traced the Schernickow family to Lithuania, Poland, and Volhynia, I am fairly certain her brother Jakob belonged to the Volinsky Regiment, which was stationed in all three places.
The fact that he was a member of the Imperial Guard at all suggests a noble lineage. But their lineage was not identical with that of the von Zarnekau family.
After thoroughly researching the Counts von Zarnekau, I have concluded that a match is unlikely. Ida was living in New York and Florida at a time when Countess Anna von Zarnekau was also living in New York, and paying regular visits to the White Russian community living in Palm Beach.
Ida probably read about the von Zarnekau family in local newspapers, and wound up telling tall tales to David. The Shernick family are probably obscure descendants of the Chernyshev (Czernichow) family. In Russian, the name Czernichow much more closely resembles Chernyshev than von Zarnekau.
The family von Zarnekau are nevertheless amazing, and I can see easily why Ida latched onto their romantic story. More importantly: one must always exercise great caution when contradicting one's elderly aunts. They've been known, on occasion, to tell the truth, and primary sources have a way of hitting you over the head with an umbrella if you don't respect them.
Therefore i am including the von Zarnekaus.
Indeed I worked so very hard digging up information on the Counts and Countesses von Zarnekau and became so completely fascinated by this obscure branch of the Romanov family, that I really must include their links.
One might say I have "adopted them," regardless of whether they are my kin or not.
Here then, is the illustrious Romanov lineage of the Counts von Zarnekau:
Peter The Great was the fourth great grandfather of Duke Konstantin Petrovich Oldenburg, father of the Counts and Countesses von Zarnekau.
This makes Peter the Great the fourth-great grandfather of Konstantin Petrovich Oldenburg, and the fifth-great grandfather of the Counts and Countesses von Zarnekau.
If my grandfather Al Shernick was, in some way, a legitimate or illegitimate child of one of the counts and countesses, sent off to live in obscurity, then he was a sixth-great grandson, my father was a seventh-great grandson, and I myself am an eighth-great grandson of Peter the Great, and also a descendant of Empress Catherine the Great.
For saying this, Romanov scholars will probably tell me exactly which end of Catherine's horse I most resemble. But at least I am not being hit over the head by the ghost of my Aunt Ida. I've reported her odd tale as honestly as possible.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
On 8 Oct 2019 at 00:58 GMT Gwen Bridgwater wrote:
426 (143) - JOHN SHAW JR Of Clantinacally, b 20 June 1769; m, probably in Ireland, ELIZABETH GRAY, b 14 May 1768. John emigrated to America in 1790, settled at New Windsor, Orange Co, New York, where he d 10 April 1849 and she d 26 March 1849. Both bur in Little Britain, NY. Their children, all b in New Windsor: 1194 - Thomas G. Shaw - b 19 February 1794, d 22 April,l871; m ELIZABETH KERNOCHEN. They lived in Spencer, Tioga Co, NY. 1195 - James Shaw - b 29 October 1795; m ELIZA BURNETT. No children.
On 8 Oct 2019 at 00:04 GMT Gwen Bridgwater wrote:
On 7 Oct 2019 at 01:43 GMT Gwen Bridgwater wrote:
On 2 Oct 2019 at 14:23 GMT Pip Sheppard wrote:
WikiTree’s Appreciation Team
On 25 Sep 2019 at 01:12 GMT Gwen Bridgwater wrote:
On 5 Sep 2019 at 21:24 GMT Gwen Bridgwater wrote:
On 2 Aug 2019 at 16:44 GMT Pip Sheppard wrote:
The Appreciation Team thanks you for all for your hard work for reaching 1000+ (actually, over 1400!) contributions for the month July 2019. Onward and upward!
WikiTree Appreciation Team
On 1 Jul 2019 at 18:34 GMT Pip Sheppard wrote:
Very well done on your making 1,000 or more contributions to WikiTree in June 2019! We commend and appreciate all of your time and effort in helping to grow and perfect our Shared Tree. Keep up the great work!
Pip Sheppard ~ WikiTree Appreciation Team
PS: A superior bio!
On 24 Jun 2019 at 15:22 GMT SJ Baty wrote:
You might want to check out the Russian Roots Project. On that page you can find instructions for how to join the project and some great resources.
Please let us know if you have any questions!
SJ - Russian Roots Project Coordinator
On 23 Jun 2019 at 14:42 GMT I (Rassinot) R wrote:
You will want to switch your "french_roots" followed tag to "france". Please check this out: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/846021/french-roots-becomes-the-france-project